I thought i'd write about the farce they call elections in India, the biggest democracy in the world. I am too sleepy now and slightly off mood for not being able to vote. As for the plight of my colleagues who went on polling duty to some interior, naxal controlled areas, well they called up to tell me that they had reached home safe and sound and promised to share their experiences when college re-opened on Monday. I was glad that they understood that I was concerned. Luckily ladies were spared this time.
Several colleges and schools were closed down since they were needed for election purposes, crores of rupees have been spent yet at least fifty percent of those whom I contacted after the election on the 23rd of April said that they kept running from booth to booth but could not find their name listed in any of them. Our area can be described as a rectangle 2 kms. in length and 1 km. broad. Yet to prepare a master chart indicating the allotment of booths to its residents was too difficult a task. Had they deputed a few sincere staff members of our college to make out such a list we would have happily obliged. Another thing that left me wondering is that our uneducated milkman and dhobi were able to cast their votes while educated people could not. I am in an uncompromising mood so I truly feel that we were deliberately confused and forced to retreat while the possibility of bogus voting in our place cannot be ruled out.
This is how I gave vent to my feelings-
I checked the internet and visited the concerned site. It opened a page with 255 booths listed and asked me to click on my booth. Had I known the number of my booth I'd have cast my vote and not surf the net.
'Fools' I muttered under my breath. There was a contact number.
I rang up.
It was the DC's office
A voice answered the phone pretty quickly. My hope started building up.
Me:Sir, I am calling from Kadma. I've been trying to locate my booth since morning. Could you help?
Voice:Sorry ma'am. why don't you try a few booths near your home. we've tried to allot the nearest booth to residents of a particular area.
Me:I've tried 5 booths and no luck yet.
Voice: you can check our site in the net.
Me: I'm sitting right in front of the computer but I can't click on 255 spots and check each and every voters' list. Could you tell me the booth numbers for Kadma?
Voice: I'll call another person and he may be able to help you.
I waited for 2 minutes and a second voice took over.
Second Voice: How may I help you?
Me: You may help me by helping me locate my booth. I want to cast my vote. Do you have any provision for me to feed my voter ID number to locate my booth. Or if I give you my name could you locate it for me?
Second voice: Sorry ma'am, the DIO (God knows what it stood for) is attending a meeting. We'll get back to you when he comes back. He may have a list.
Me: Do you have my phone number?? How do you plan to get back to me?
Second voice: No, ma'am. Why don't you ring us up in 10 minutes. We'll try to find out.
I was in a terrible mood by then-
Me: Do you have my name or my address to try and find out. What kind of system are you running? In the scorching heat we've been running from booth to booth to cast our vote and it is already two in the afternoon. Your dumb website has no purposeful information and your officer goes for a meeting taking the list with him and you guys have no backup copy. If educated people have so much trouble what would be the plight of illiterate people?
Voice: I understand ma'am but I am not in a position to help.
At this point I felt genuinely sorry for blasting the poor fellow. With our administrative officers unable to direct their sub ordinates, despite being treated like pampered sons in law, there was no point yelling at this man who was perhaps a peon or counter clerk. The cynic in me says that this was perhaps deliberately done. A professor in our colony went with his wife to cast his vote. His name was missing while his wife a home maker was allowed to vote since her name figured in the list. Another friend, a school teacher looked up my name wherever she went and I checked on hers. Neither of us could locate our names.
Tell me am I wrong in calling the election process a farce and waste of time?