Editorial: A Self-Defeating Urban Cynicism

Editorial: A Self-Defeating Urban Cynicism

FPJ EditorialUpdated: Sunday, May 05, 2024, 08:17 PM IST
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Vote: A strong chorus is made up of individual voices | Representative Image/Pixabay

The Election Commission has lamented the relatively low polling in the first two phases of the Lok Sabha poll. Expressing disappointment the EC attributed it to what it called the “rigid levels of apathy” in urban seats. It noted that there was a four percent fall in the first phase and three percent in second phase as compared to the 2019 election. The voter apathy was particularly severe in urban areas. For instance, in the NCR region the two seats in UP, Ghaziabad and Gautam Buddh Nagar recorded a fall of six percent as against last parliamentary poll. Ditto for Bangalore Central and Bangalore South. The EC in a statement last Friday said that the ‘ city voters did not exercise their franchise despite efforts and campaigns by the poll watchdog targeting urban seats this time...” The EC had launched media campaigns with an eye on the voters in metropolitan areas. Meanwhile, the EC denied any suggestion of wrong-doing in the release of voting data in the first phase after 11 days while the voting data for the second phase on April 26 was released four days later. The EC said it had a well-oiled and foolproof system in place to tabulate booth-wise data and furnish it to the candidates immediately after close of polling. This was a statutory requirement and there was no departure from the well-established practice. But the issue of voter apathy is far more serious and reflects poorly on the parties and candidates in fray which failed to enthuse voters to perform the vital duty to elect their representatives for the Lok Sabha, the highest elective body in the country which in turn chooses the rulers for the next five years. Though voting cannot be compulsory, yet citizens in general cannot escape moral responsibility for neglecting their civic duty. It is unfortunate that more than the rural folks it is the city-slick voter with a fair level of education who disdainfully shuns partaking in the greatest festival of democracy, failing to trek to the polling booth, which the EC ensures is always within close vicinity. The prevalent cynicism in urban areas generally that “sab chor hain”, is self-defeating insofar as the failure of the educated classes to vote can only feed the same syndrome, further proving the veracity of their lament. Change for better is incumbent upon an informed citizenry participating actively in the polling exercise. Paying heed to the party manifestoes, rival contestants’ educational background and their professional careers, if any other than politics, ought to help urban voters to make informed choices. Even if the options are limited to picking the least worse candidate on the ballot paper, it needs to be registered officially so that the worse candidate does not end up representing them be sheer default. If political corruption matters, the voter ought to read the assets mandatorily declared by rival candidates and assess whether these have been amassed through legitimate or illegitimate means.

The other day we noticed how the candidates fielded by the Samajwadi Party in UP belonging to the extended Yadav family had all declared enormous movable and immovable assets. Which made us wonder how the founder of the party, the late Mulayam Singh, a teacher in an intermediate college before joining politics full-time, had founded a now very wealthy dynasty. Ditto in Maharashtra. The Pawars and the Thackerays before plunging into politics were all men of modest means and now boast of tens of crores of assets even for very young members of their families. Neither the Yadavs in UP or Bihar nor the Pawars and the Thackerays in Maharashtra or, for that matter, nor the Stalins and Marans in Tamil Nadu, had huge wealth to begin with. Their entry into politics invariably paved their way with gold and diamonds. The point we are making is that thanks to the Supreme Court and the EC there is now enough usable information about the candidates. For instance, about each candidate’s educational qualifications. Thus, not voting ought not to be an option for the self-assumed thinking classes. That rural folks vote in larger numbers, for whatever reasons, ought to spur the urban voters to do their duty too.

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