Election campaigns bring out the best and the worst in us

Election campaigns bring out the best and the worst in us

With the ongoing frenzy of elections, all around you see colourful banners and posters, vehicles on street proclaiming why a certain leader should be your choice of representative or campaigns meant to change the minds of enthused people. The enthusiasm and tension during a poll campaign is palpable; healthy even. It shows just how much people of India are taking democracy to their heart and how everyone is keen on exercising their fundamental duties of electing their next representative.

On the other hand however, democracy has a darker side. Sure, people vote, want their party to win, and are pumped up about certain candidates. But this same passion and enthusiasm drives them to do unethical and unlawful things like is evident from recent happenings during the recent elections.

Things take an ugly turn when violence ensues. In several polling booths across the state, polling officials or party agents were threatened or harmed by party workers. It is no news that everyone puts on a new face when elections come around. People are willing to overlook all relationships-- families, friends, couples – when it comes to supporting their choice of political party. It is the boon and bane of democracy. While it unites people who support the same parties, it also divides people who don’t agree with another’s political ideologies. When the fine line of polite discussion and acceptance is crossed, violence arises.

If the ruling party ensures people can’t vote for change, then there goes all the freedom that comes with democracy. This isn’t about a single party, or who should rule India in whatever ways. It is about the people and their right to choose. It is about having the freedom to vote. And it is about the fairness of the democratic system. If people insist on rigging the core of the system that grants them equity, then it’s time to rethink their priorities. If this fundamental policy of fairness and candor is under question, democracy wouldn’t hold itss meaning for much longer.

One thing I've witnessed so many times is how many votes are fraudulent. Indian citizens who aren’t even in the country have ‘cast’ their vote in their respective polling booths, some even without the knowledge of the person! If a particular region ‘belongs to’ a certain party, then the polling booths in their region will be heavy with duplicate voters.

Party workers go home-to-home looking for matching faces of underage candidates who’re willing to cast a vote for someone who couldn’t be there themselves. Or else, it is the hunt for ID cards of the people in the voter’s list who haven’t been marked yet, so they could arrange people to get in their votes. Such unfair practices are very common and are even ignored by the officials. '

Furthermore, there has been reports of Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) being rigged to beep only for a particular party even if the voter cast their vote for someone else. As Keral voted on Tuesday, reports of rigged machines arose from multiple polling booths, including one in Kovalam and Pattam in Thiruvanathapuram constituency. However, the complainant was arrested at Pattam on charges of giving false information. In another incident, a voter who came to cast his vote at Edakkad L.P. School, Kozhikode, was reportedly found trying to destroy the voting machine. If this is the new norm of democracy, then what is the point of elections at all? But shouldn't we ignore them as isolated incidents in a mammoth exercise!

(Opinions expressed are personal)