You choose your Chowkidar, your Destiny
Swami Vivekananda, that wandering Hindu Monk had famously said, inspired from Veda, that ‘you are the architect of your destiny.’ If so, time has come for Karnataka to shape its destiny for the next five years by choosing its rulers. That time is tomorrow. Voting begins from morning 7 to evening 6.
Tomorrow your one vote with one value will decide your political peripeteia for the next five years. Which is why I am caught in a political dilemma since yesterday, last day of canvassing. Could be large number of voters too might be undergoing this sort of trauma which will end tomorrow.
We voters have three major political parties before us to choose from — Congress, BJP and JD(S). The question is what is the criterion to make a choice? The touchstone to test the ‘quality’ of the representative we choose to represent us as the law-maker and run the government for the next five years? Of course, you can cast your vote to a candidate of your preference belonging to the political party whose political ideology you approve of.
However, there is a catch. What if the party, which has an ideology (like right-centre-left etc.) that you accept but compromises on its much-vaunted ideology and gives ticket to contest the election as its candidate to a person with despicable, even criminal background? A patriotic voter will not like to vote for such a bad character. Sadly the voter, in such a situation is left with Hobson’s choice — “I’ll give you a choice: take it or leave it”, wherein “leaving it” is strongly undesirable.
In such an event, the voter may consider the moral and ideological high of the political party’s top leader or leaders (High Command) and cast the vote, hoping the High Command will make amends, even if the unworthy candidate wins. Alternatively, the voter may vote for a good candidate from any other party (contesting from the same Constituency). And if the voter does not want to be caught in this cobweb of a difficult choice or an impossible situation, there is one more option. Thanks to the Election Commission’s escape route for the voter. He can go for NOTA. ‘The none of the above’ candidates’ button and press it. Of course, it is difficult to say what kind of effect it will have on the candidates in the fray. It is not clear. However, such a decision by the voter will certainly send a strong message to the political parties to select good persons with merit and clean image to contest the election.
This time the Election Commission has brought about many innovative, voter-friendly changes in the matter of election. It has come up with many schemes and plans to motivate people to realise their responsibility to the nation and the institution of democracy and go to the voting booth without fail. It has cast its net wide to include young student voters, labour forces in the factories, white collar employees and farmers. We will know the beneficial effect of this labour of the Election Commission and also of the NGOs only when we know the percentage of voting on the day of the reckoning — May 13, the counting day.
The Election Commission has also created a congenial atmosphere for the citizen to exercise his vote by increasing the number of voting booths, by choosing the convenient, easily accessible location to set up the voting centres so that the voter need not travel a long distance and by ensuring proper security. Interestingly, the buildings of voting booths, some selected ones, are not only kept hygienically clean but are even decorated to look attractive with fresh paint and decorations like a festive occasion. Well, after all, are we not celebrating the festival called Democracy? Amen.
Further, this year the Election Commission has shown greater mercy and concern for the old and the disabled who cannot go to the polling booth. For them, voting arrangements were made at their houses, homes or hospitals or wherever they are with the ballot boxes and the record books to get their votes. After all, votes are invaluable, like oxygen for people, to keep our democracy live and vibrant. Hence, no eligible voter shall be excluded in this inclusive democracy.
In a democracy freedom of an individual is the most important rights of all — freedom of life, speech, liberty and property. Thus he has a right not to vote also. At present there is no law that can punish him for not voting or to deny him any legal rights or government benefits for not exercising his vote. May be, for this reason there is never 100 percent or near 100 percent voting. One of the other reason for the low percentage in voting is the holiday declared on the election day. Many jolly-good fellows simply leave their homes for a holiday in some tourist place or go visiting friends and relatives not bothering to exercise their sacred duty of voting. This kind of conduct exhibits a person’s lack of patriotism and concern for democracy. It also tantamounts to abusing the personal freedom given to us under the Constitution. Such citizens must remember that should they get a bad or corrupt government, they alone are responsible. Please do not complain or grumble. You will have forfeited that right by not exercising your franchise? Remember Swami Vivekananda: ‘You are the architect of your destiny.’
Already the Election Officers have visited the old and specially-abled voters and got their votes. An example is the picture above where 104-year-old voter Vidwan Sri Krishna Bhat, the father of the Seer of Sri Pejawar Mutt, Udupi, is seen casting his vote in his house for the 2023 Karnataka Assembly election.
And finally for those of our readers who know Kannada, here is a persuasive jingle to remind you to vote, that came to me per WhatsApp:
ಯೋಗ್ಯರಿಗೇ ಬಟನ್ ಒತ್ತು
Jai Hind, Jai Karnataka