I was just reading this article on a village in Bihar that has no electricity, no water supply and none of the facilities we take for granted like a health centre or a school. And this village is represented by Lallu Prasad Yadav, a walking and talking political nuisance and windbag. So I was just wondering, why couldn’t these villagers vote for electricity, water supply and a school, instead of empty promises and perhaps bottles of country liquor? For instance, get us electricity and water supply within the next two months and we will vote for your party, something like that. Getting electricity and water to a village within a couple of months isn’t impossible.
Most of the goons like Lallu are elected to power not because of their work, but the useless stuff they distribute and the pathetic promises they make during pre-election campaigns. You might say but then these villagers deserve what they get but that is not the point. Ours is a highly patriarchal society so whatever the males of the village do, the children and the women have to bear the brunt. Once country liquor or lose cash is distributed among these men they do not only vote for the wrong people themselves, they also make the women and the young adults to vote for the same charlatans (assuming they are not threatened into voting for wrong candidates by the henchmen of these charlatans).
These silly people don’t understand that they are prolonging their misery by focusing on immediate gains. But is this the only story? Is it about silly and stupid and backward villagers constantly trapped in their own imprecation of ignorance and greed? It might be (and that’s why recently I suggested that illiterate people shouldn’t be allowed to vote, but the issue is debatable), but the problem is not confined to backward Bihari villages. Even among the intellectuals and the middle classes dwelling in the cities and towns, the same problem persists: either they don’t vote, or even when they do, they have no clue whom to vote for.
We are not aware in terms of our rights and responsibilities. We see elections as just days when we have to go and cast our votes and then flaunt that little mark on the tips of our fingers. We are not politically conscious and we don’t have strong opinions regarding our politicians. We don’t realise that these politicians impact the way we and our children live our lives and spend our days in this country.
Our current political mess is simply because we don’t vote for the right reason whether we are living in villages or cities. We either vote indifferently as if we couldn’t care less who comes to power because basically they are the same (very convenient) or we can be easily incited/enticed. Both these problems have attained an alarming state. The political class isn’t going to do anything about it because it works in their favour. The more indifferent you are, the more corruption they can indulge in with greater impunity because they know that your indifference is going to help them maintain a political status quo. But what if all the candidates listed are basically of the same variety? This is why it is very important to fully support movements like Anna Hazare’s. He may sound a bit loony sometimes but the fundamental approach isn’t misplaced. He is raising all the issues whether rightly or wrongly, that we should be raising as concerned citizens. Take for instance the right to recall. But that is another topic.
So unless we start voting for the right reason we are never going to get the sort of politicians needed to give us a balanced growth.