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.
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.
This election official asked us to go and check in a certain place “one last time”….I wonder why “one last time”!!!
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.
This is the road that we live close to, usually very busy with traffic going by at speed.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.