People must vote wisely

Poll duty officers and employees collecting the EVM, VVPAT Machines and seen checking the materials given to them for the purpose of the election and leaving to polling station after collecting the materials due to Vidhana Sabha Election at DRR Polytechni

Karnataka goes to polls on Saturday to elect a new Assembly and government after a long, noisy and vicious campaign. No other election in the state has received so much national attention as this election. The election is extremely important for the country’s two national parties — the Congress and the BJP — which are the main parties in the state too. The Congress wants to retain power as Karnataka is the only major state ruled by it. The BJP wants to recapture power it lost in 2013 as it wants a foothold in the south. The importance of the election has been magnified by the perception that it may set the trend for the next Lok Sabha election. While the Congress hopes that the record of the Siddaramaiah government will ensure its victory, the BJP relies on its old leadership, the reunited base of support and the mass appeal of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Unfortunately, the campaign saw very low levels of speech and conduct on the part of parties and leaders. Again, no other election campaign in the state has been held with so much rancour and negativity as this one. The most unseemly charges and countercharges and lies and half-truths were freely flung and tossed around. Many leaders made baseless statements and allegations against the other side and used words and expressions which only demeaned their positions. Common decencies and norms of respect for rivals were given a go-by. Standards have been steadily falling and they have hit shamefully and worryingly low levels now. Issues relating to caste, community and religion have received greater prominence than the real issues that affect the lives of people and the development of the state. Voters were wooed with the most fanciful promises. Many accounts suggest that electoral malpractices have increased.

It is now for the people of the state to see through all this and exercise their power with wisdom and judgement. Since the right to vote is the most basic democratic right, it is the duty of every citizen to use it, and use it purposefully and with discrimination. The last Assembly elections saw only a 70% voter turnout and this is low for an educated and informed electorate. It is shameful that Bengaluru, which is among the country’s most literate cities, saw only a 50% voter turnout. No citizen has the moral right to criticise a government if he or she does not participate in the process to elect it. Democracy thrives only on participation by the people and so every voter should go to the booth to make his or her choice.

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People must vote wisely

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