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Thursday, April 24, 2014

good turnout in Tamil Nadu; lukewarm in Maharashtra ~ 100% in Gujarat village.

A typical scene of villagers on country boats..... nothing unusual ?!? – if only you know the reason....

All 39 Lok Sabha seats in Tamil Nadu went to polls in the sixth phase today.  In India often elections are festivals – there are many who do not exercise franchise citing silly reasons.  In the city, people will not vote when it rains, when it is hot, when there is crowd, when violence is apprehended and more..  in a Democracy, some get elected by getting less than 25% of the electoral votes – but don’t blame them; don’t even blame the system – blame the individuals who do not vote………. When there is very high % of voting, people start suspecting bogus voting.  Lot has changed from the days of ballot (when there were occasions of booth capturing and mass voting by some goons) to the present day EVM. A number of high-profile candidate’s fortunes are to be decided ..... The DMK had won 18 seats in the 2009 Lok Sabha election while the AIADMK, the current ruling party, won only 9 seats. The Congress had bagged 7 seats.  Lot is expected to change !!!  A total of 845 candidates are in fray of whom  only 55 are women.

According to a news report, Election authorities raided and lodged a police complaint against five companies at an IT park here for functioning on the day of Lok Sabha polling in Tamil Nadu today in violation of rules and sent back around 2,000 employees home to enable them to vote.  The attitude of the Companies certainly need condemnation.   On the other side, some Private enterprises in Chennai announced discounts on services and goods to encourage citizens to go and vote.

Away, Maharashtra saw low voter turnout while there was enthusiastic voting in Tamil Nadu as polling was held on 117 Lok Sabha constituencies in 11 states and in the Union Territory of Puducherry.  Firstpost reports that by and large, Mumbaikars, except those who live in the slums, have lost the right to express displeasure on TV shows, Facebook, Twitter or anywhere else, over issues of governance. Their many candle-light vigils and protest marches can henceforth be conveniently labelled hollow. If at all they have gripes about the government, about civic administration, they are better advised to keep the same to themselves. By staying away from polling booths, they just abdicated their right to criticise any government agency or institution. And the middles class - the ones with the most number of complaints and even more angst - are the ones who refused to walk to the poll booths and exercise their franchise. The poor, on the other hand, are more dutiful as citizens in a democracy notwithstanding the fact that they are the most disenfranchised in the society.

Further away,  Raj Samadhiyala in Gujarat's Saurashtra was once known across the country as a zero-crime village where denizens didn't need to lock their houses.  Over the years, though, it has added several more feathers to its cap. On April 30, all its 960-odd eligible voters will exercise their franchise. This is a record in itself, but the real novelty about Raj Samadhiyala lies in the fact that voting here is mandatory, and violating this unwritten rule attracts a penalty of Rs 500 from the panchayat. If for any reason someone is unable to cast their vote, they are required to present a valid reason to village elders.  The residents of Raj Samadhiyala won't tell you the party they owe their allegiance to, but there is a tacit affinity towards Chief Minister Narendra Modi, as he got a strict ban imposed on the sale and consumption of gutkha. So what, you ask? Well, in this village of 1,700 people, teetotalism is a prized virtue and no one here chews tobacco or smokes either. Situated 30km from Saurashtra's main city Rajkot, Raj Samadhiyala is a place that observes a blanket ban on the use of plastic, and each home has a toilet. The village has its own school, a stadium and a cricket team that participates in matches across the country.

Daily Mail reports that some 15 years ago, Raj Samadhiyala was like several other villages of Saurashtra. The metamorphosis began with the election of a progressive, educated and innovative sarpanch, Hardevsinhji Jadeja, who worked hard to turn things around. With the use of seismic imaging, he spotted underground water streams and then implemented a strict water-harvesting programme. Soon, the village had its own pond with lush green crops throughout the year. A renaissance of sorts had begun.

Now we have polling booths situated so close to our home and yet we find reasons for not walking in.......  Valli village is different~ everyone in this village has a mobile phone, but they have to take a 20-minute boat ride to the nearest town to charge it. Located on an island around 40km from Anand, Valli village has no power supply, and residents here depend on the boat ride across lake Kanewal for almost all their basic needs.  But, for all the inconvenience, come election time, each eligible voter of Valli makes it a point to swim across to the nearest polling booth to register a 100 per cent turnout. This has been the trend over the past four elections, General and Assembly.

~ and further away, hundreds of voters of Madhya Pradesh's Gangapur village  threatened to boycott April 24 elections to press their long-pending demands for roads and power in the area. The villagers have now put up banners all across the village saying: "sadak nahi toh vote nahi aur bijli nahi toh vote nahi (no road no vote and no electricity no vote)".

Will continue with one post on ‘compulsory voting’ not here – elsewhere – downunder

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.
24.4.2014 @ 0700pm.

Due credits to Daily Mail & Firstpost.

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