Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Holiday or Poll-iday?

Kiran Bedi

Driving through nearly deserted roads of New Delhi while going to cast my vote, I wondered where the voters were? Despite the massive explosion of creative and relentless Pappu drives-Jago Re campaigns through all possible mediums available. At the end of the day, voting turnout was just over 50%— an exceedingly disproportionate outcome compared to the intensity of these collective drives. The percentage ought not to have been less than 75 to 80%. So what went wrong? What could be that ONE CHANGE that could be experimented with, and which hopefully may succeed in smashing this barrier and take it a new level?

It would be, to make the voting day a non-holiday — just another working day with permission to report late or leave early to enable voting. Not only will this really get the vote “out”, it will help create persuasive pressure groups at work that will ensure increased voting. This may be an unpopular step as everyone loves a holiday. Invariably many a families use this (holi)day to make it into a long weekend. It is often said that the city dwellers do not vote hence they do not matter. I am convinced that if the voting day is not declared a holiday, the urban classes will be out voting in large numbers. They will not have to make a special effort to come out to vote as they will already be on the road. Many will first go to the polling booth near their home and then go to work. Or vote on their way home from work.

This will most likely take turnout to 75 to 80%. The good news is that everyone in the constituency will matter. This means that candidates will not be able to play divisive politics. The country’s urban elite and the middle classes often complain about the state of affairs and the fact that politicians only cater to the poor and rural populations. And why shouldn’t they? These people form a preponderance of the voting population. So it is time that the urban classes stand up, get out of their holiday mood, vote and be counted. Else they can forever make peace with their grievances. Keeping the voting day a working day obviates the need for making voting mandatory. What a simple yet powerful revolution in democracy to rise above cast, creed, religion, and gender. Is this worth considering? Or is the status quo too comfortable to change?

(Kiran Bedi is the first woman IPS officer and a recipient of the Ramon Magsaysay

1 comment:

  1. In previous elections, politicians used to exploit money and muscle power to lure illeterate , uneducated people and pull them to booths in their favor, courtesy a tough no nonsense EC, it is not possible to a great extent, this time voting is by the voter of lower/upper middle class enlightened voter . such class is a politian in themselves and less in number , therefore polling in western part , karnatka is much less


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