Monday, May 6, 2013

Bangalore's voter apathy

(Crossposted from Kaleidoscope)

Many feared that the voter turnout in Bangalore city had plummeted to a new low yesterday. But the figures put out by the Election Commission paint a different picture. A little more than half the city voted, 52.8 percent, five percent more than the 2008 turnout. But Bangalore Urban continued to record the lowest turnout among the 30 districts in the state.

I don't find anything surprising in many city dwellers shying away from exercising their franchise. There are many reasons why voting isn't a priority for them. 
One is the general cynicism about politicians and the system they operate in. Many people don't believe that merely voting will bring about any change in the society. They argue that the changes they are desperately looking for are apolitical development-related ones, like infrastructure; and accountability of public servants. These are in no way related to political ideologies; and many feel politicians have collectively failed to do the least that is expected of them.

There’s no choice either. Most candidates fall far short of minimum expectations. Politicians hardly inspire. There are so many cases of lawmakers turning into lawbreakers. There are honest, educated politicians with good credentials who are committed to bringing about quality changes in society. 

But they are a very small minority. Besides, we have many examples of such well-meaning public servants being beaten back by the system.

All parties finally turn out the same. No party has acted in a way that inspires when it comes to, for example, corruption allegations against one of its men.

There are also many reasons why village and small-town residents are less cynical. One, there is lesser disconnect between them and politicians. Two, their expectations are fewer. Three, when it comes to voting, the "herd mentality" works to some extent in small towns and not in cosmopolitan areas like Bangalore where people are individualistic in their thoughts and actions.

Having said all these, did I vote yesterday? Yes, I did. Was the choice easy? No, not at all. But the process was.

I thought if most politicians shun their part of the work, should I shun mine too? Voting is the easiest part in the democratic setup. I didn’t want to fare poorer than most politicians.

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