Millennium Post

Madison Square comes to vote

The Supreme Court has given the government an eight-week deadline to ensure that a system is put in place to allow NRIs to e-vote. The apex court orders came, following the government’s assurance that it was willing to accept the Election Commission recommendations in this regard. In a democracy, creating facilities for greater participation of voters should always be welcomed. Hence, a move that would benefit about one crore Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), should be welcomed.

However, the spirit of Indian democracy rests on the pillars of universal adult franchise. Anybody over 18 years or above, irrespective of caste, creed, colour, cash, community and education is allowed to vote except in cases, when a person is specifically disqualified by law. Although creating an opportunity for NRIs to vote calls for an applause, failure to ensure similar facilities to internal migrants, mostly unorganised labour, is a cause for much concern.

The irony is greater that over 70 per cent of the internal migrants are proud holders of voter I-cards, as it has become the critical document for availing other facilities like getting ration from public distribution system or opening a bank account through Jan Dhan Yojana. Unfortunately, however, a majority of them end up not exercising their right to vote since they could be away at a place of work that is far removed from their  permanent residence.

The government or the Election Commission has not yet created any scheme, whereby voters belonging to Bihar, Odisha, West Bengal or Chhattisgarh, who work in the cold climes of Himalayan states building roads for the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), have a say about in choosing their representative in the state assembly or the Lok Sabha. These people work at such distances from their hearth, since opportunities close to home are not forthcoming.

Their desire for change can only get manifested if they have the opportunity to vote. Shakespeare famously wrote, ‘Caesar’s wife should be above suspicion.’ In light of the above circumstances, so should Narendra Modi’s government. The present administration could be suspected of working only for the rich and not caring much for the poor. A facility for the NRIs to vote is welcome, but there should be greater opportunities for internal migrants too.
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