Election Day Blues

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So I didn’t get to vote today and neither did Uday, who got out at 7:30 to go check voter lists. He got back around 10 a.m. and we let Sharada go to vote. Lakshmi had the whole day free so both of them managed to vote. All my friends here did too. I joined Uday after Sharada got back and we went from polling station to polling station looking for our names. Some had one Dhavle, some had none, some had a longer list of them, some a few, but none of those Dhavle’s were us. Needless to say I was very downcast and sorry that I did not get to do my duty as a citizen…through no fault of my own.

s main rd

Polling usually takes place in government schools and teachers often do voting duty. They sit all day at tables with lists of voters and in the sweltering sun were exchanging chatter and being very sprightly about it all. I managed a few photos. In one booth I got yelled at by some policemen – for some reason in India, you can’t take photos of official things and processes. I asked why but there was just general yelling. I waited and took one more and then there was hell of an eruption but I calmed the police guy by saying I was writing about my experience in a blog! He was quite OK with it, but just gave me an official scowl for the record.

It was quite something to see the spectacle, only it wasn’t much of one. There were no long queues, no hundreds, let alone thousands of people so one wonders about this wave, really, that our media is predicting. However, in one place I did notice that the paper we have to sign before we enter for casting our vote had a number of exact same signatures. That’s all I got to see of anything untoward, and I wish I had got a picture! In this booth where there was a long list of Dhavles, the lady would not let us scrutinize it, and a guy who was willing to help got shouted down, really shouted down by her. I wonder why!

I spent time looking and asking for our names too and Uday tried because he speaks much better Marathi, it’s his mother tongue, but no joy anywhere.

people

uday

getting advice

This election official asked us to go and check in a certain place “one last time”….I wonder why “one last time”!!!

school again

On another unhelpful note, a police van driving around with gimlet eyes on innocent folk used a microphone to authoritatively chase off men who were trying to make a good day’s living selling cold things like drinks and ice-creams and sugar cane etc. I got a photo there but the guy was chased off in no time as the van approached and the police inside started scaring them out of shape. In India people who sell things by the roadside are a menaced lot.

thirst quenchr

our road

This is the road that we live close to, usually very busy with traffic going by at speed.

traffic

pingle wast

It was a really horrible hot day with the only pleasant thing being hardly any traffic. I got some street shots as we were cruising about from booth to booth hoping our names would turn up somewhere. The tables everywhere were besieged by ten-fifteen people asking where the hell their names were. One worker said please find my name soon as I have to get back to work.

sugar cane juice

That’s a sugar cane crusher in the distance. I was one harried woman today. Even my husband kept hurrying me so I was desperate to get pictures that showed the scene as I saw it.

So that was that. The electoral process as we call it here is still going on and stretches into next month. On May the 16th votes will be counted and we will know what is going to be the result of this huge operation. I was going to vote for Professor Subhash Ware who is an Aam Aadmi Party candidate from Pune for the Lok Sabha.

I got this photo of Professor Ware from the AAP facebook pages that I have been following. He is a soft spoken, very distinguished person with a lot of experience in working for social causes. This party has attracted hundreds and thousands of people like him, people who are tribals and have worked in human rights campaigns and have suffered awful indignities, people like Medha Patkar who is an eminent social activist, people like a top policewoman Kanchan Bhattacharya, who a TV series was made about and so many, many, others. Out of the picture are the many people freely volunteering their time and who exemplify citizens who want to work for the betterment of the country by not just criticizing but by joining politics to make things work by their efforts.

pune10

The Aam Aadmi Party is distinguished by these Gandhi topis that they wear saying “We are the common man”. They have captured the imagination and enthusiasm of many people especially social activists, middle class folk and also some people in varied artistic and corporate positions. But their main supporters are the huge amount of working class and the huger underclass of people who get totally ignored. They have found something that resonates with their lives in the rhetoric of the Aam Aadmi Party candidates. The criticism is that they are “inexperienced” but then shouldn’t we give them that experience?

17AAP-1

Hot day

This is a new party, fighting for their right as political representatives with an anti-corruption plank. They do not have the funds like mainstream parties have, nor do they have the support of the media who mostly behave as if they do not exist. That is why I read articles from Kafila, here on our very own WordPress and have a link for you to see if there is anything we can possibly do in the future if  not now, for making our election process, and in fact any political process, free of corruption and lawlessness.

s main road

Under the Banyan tree in the distance are the people who sit with the lists of voters. There are plenty of folks shooting the breeze as well but most are there to vote and go. Up the road is the polling station where there was a decently long line. And where my friend, who had been on the phone to me while I was sleuthing  around, finally found her name. Lucky her. And that reminds me, my friend Lucy was listed as Lucky Fernandes, so I wonder if I was there hidden under some pseudonym.

It is not a happy ending of a long awaited day for me and my husband but we plan to give it such a fight to see that we are on the rolls as soon as the registration starts again, this June, we hear. And there are still some 28 days to go during which I’ll be cheering on this party, which by the way, I have become a member of.

To end my story today perhaps this link to the Kafila story will make more sense and give an idea about how society and officialdom sometimes go hand in hand to prevent honesty and openness in this hugely populated ‘democracy’ they call India.

http://kafila.org/2014/04/16/democracy-dies-in-mewat-should-gurgaon-elections-be-countermanded-vivek-sharma/

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About susanddhavle

I'm really interested in writing about things that have resonance with people who care for the elderly or ill at home, though other topics interest me as well. In this blog I plan to share my and my family's experiences with caring for my elderly mother. She is now 84 years old. I have done some free lance writing years ago, worked with non-profits and enjoy reading and films.

10 responses »

  1. Interesting reading about another country’s election process. Do most people at least try to vote in India? Not enough people in the UK vote, so the same right wing, middle class parties get in. There is a great feeling of apathy for the governments (and any political parties) in our country at the moment however there is great interest in the upcoming referendum for Scotland to become independent from England and I think if anything like what is happening in your country (trying to stop people from voting) there would be an outcry! There is corruption here also, it is just not always quite so obvious – they try to be discreet but they are always being found out. I had a look at your link, but I am afraid it is the end of the week and I could not really fathom another countries political systems right now ha! I will try again though, because I find all of these differences and similarities very interesting, particularly because all our countries are so connected now with global capitalism – never before has there been a time when what happens in one country has the potential to affect us all.

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    • Thank you for this Verity. I know the difficulties of keeping up with blogs we follow and their very different systems being talked about. But it looks like, from your comment that you care enough and that gives one a perspective about other systems. If it helps, we have the same system, parliamentary as in the UK, we were colonized by Britain. So the Lok Sabha is the House of Commons and the Rajya Sabha the House of Lords. Thanks for reading and only read the link when you are less tired from the week’s work. I am so glad to have you as a follower.

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  2. How terrible that you weren’t able to vote this time around. I hope your name is on the list in June, at least. And I hope the teachers are provided with some shade as they sit at the tables for hours – although they seemed to be in good spirits! In France where I’m from they don’t like photos being taken of the voting process either (perhaps the idea is to make it more anonymous, who knows). Thank you for such an interesting post.

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    • Thank you for reading. I guess I’m seeing the US process which is very open and organized and wanting our system to be like that.
      Anyway! I know France just had a general election too and you have a new government.
      Cheers!

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      • You’re right, the American system does seem so open. I live in the US now but can’t vote here as I’m not a citizen. I wish I could peek into the voting halls though as that would be so interesting!

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    • Susan,an interesting article Friends of mine ,both senior citizens,had the very same expeience.They have been living here for the past few decades,and voting too.Imagine their frustration, when they could’nt find their names inspite of visiting 6 polling booths in the vicinity.My sis-in -law who has never voted and got a dressing down from me,applied for a voter id on line and even got an e-receipt,did not get her voter id card,but nevertheless went to vote,did not find her name.On the other hand the booth officials at my polling station,were very helpful,made way for me,since I was in a wheel chair and at the end of it asked if I was related to Nisha Millet..Helps ,I guess to have a celebrity in the family.

      I am inclined to believe that bureaucratic inefficiency and public pathy are to blame .We all had 5 years to check if our voter cards were ready.We need to do that diligently.In B’lore we have a citizens group called BPac,headed by Kiron Mazumder Shaw,the CEO and MD of Biocon,and consisting of about 29 prominent citizens,formed about 16 months ago who have been waging a crusade to get B’loreans to vote.Nisha is one of the founding members.They are apolitical,and support any member of the public with an unimpeachable public record with a lakh of money if they require it.They have succeeded in increasing B’lores voting percentage by alittle above 10 %.Not an earthshaking figure,but at least its a start.

      Remember we have Electronic voting machines( which even the USofA does’nt have )even in the most remote villages.Also remember the old insidious practice of ,” Booth Capturing ” is a thing of the past..So I say theres hope..

      Aubrey

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  3. A nice and detailed review of a sample of our voting process! And the answer to your question on AAP “…shouldn’t we give them that experience”? I say Yes we should 🙂

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  4. Thanks for going through this post. I am very heartened by the response Arvind Kejriwal is getting in Varanasi. Glad to have a fellow follower of AAP. I think people don’t try hard enough to get information from different sources so they can ponder on what moves them the most. What do you think of the electoral process so far? I am hoping that AAP gets a good amount of seats in the Lok Sabha. Medha Patkar, along with the rest of them give a decent look to parliament.

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