When India got inked

Women & men stand in line to cast their vote at a Polling booth for Lok Sabha Elections at Kalaburagi One centre in Brahmpur in Kalaburagi. (Photo/ Prashanth HG)

Festivities, we love them. An ancient civilisation, heavily loaded with long drawn customs and traditions, we need little reason to break into celebrations. As a people, we are capable of commemorating anything and everything under the sun… even death, as a rite of passage to another realm rather than mourn it as the end of it all.

Staying on with the festival template, I headed for the municipal school close-by to participate in a carnival-like no other. The mother of all festivals… Desh Ka Mahatyohar, as the Election Commission put it. To celebrate our vibrant democracy… to vote for the 17th Lok Sabha.

The weather, too, beckoned. A nice breeze gently nudged us to venture out in the otherwise sweltering heat of May. All queued up, waiting for our turn, it felt proud to be stakeholders in an exercise that impacts 1.3 billion lives… an equal investor as my domestic help or my driver... sabka saath, sabka vikas, as I would like to believe.

Amidst the high wagers involved, trepidation does set in, given the agathokakological persona of our politicians. The campaigning reached an all-time low brow in the political slugfest … an ugly spat between the two top contenders in my constituency… vilifying, misogynistic propaganda against one… an activist and a seemingly worthy candidate… more mud-slinging ensued. It did cloud our judgment. An ethical dilemma… discussions at home and outside, both hushed and animated, about these appalling turn of events… further muddled our good sense. Over the years, it has become more and more difficult every time to make an “informed” decision.

Caught in a quandary, all the while vainly searching for a somewhat credible candidate, one waited with bated breath on the D-day for one’s turn to make the “right” choice. A veteran of many elections, still wildly swinging between the candidates, I got inked. Standing alone in the coop, the sacrosanct voting machine in front of me, taking a deep breath, I pressed the button, the buzzer went off, I waited for the VVPAT machine (used for the first time to silence the electronic voting machine baiters) to show the paper trail. Hoping against hope, my chin held high, I came out, all swelled up with patriotic fervour. We, as a family unit, stuck to our original choice. My young son, a proud first-time voter, too, exercised his franchise… he who had suggested NOTA at one point. He chose sensibly, weighing all the pros and cons, keeping a level head, trying not to get affected by the rumours flying all around, thick and fast. We had taught him to respect women and he did just that by casting his choice without prejudice… his inky index finger perhaps pointing optimistically towards a move for the better. And I wish for it to remain that way.

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