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The dance of democracy

As the world’s largest election kickstarted this week, it is time to cast our votes responsibly and participate in the democratic process

The dance of democracy

The dance of democracy has commenced in India as the world's largest election exercise kickstarted this week. Lok Sabha 2019 is also turning out to be the most bitterly fought election in the history of the Indian democracy. Parties are scrambling to retain power or snatch it. In the middle of this turf war, elections are also a time for celebration because only ever so often (once in five years to be precise) do ordinary citizens truly get a chance to exercise their right of franchise. It is also a matter of great responsibility as almost 900 million voters begin to cast their votes and decide their future and that of the nation.

This great power that lies on our finger for that brief moment within the polling booth (provided the EVMs function without glitches and our names do appear in voter lists) is not to be taken lightly. The vote that we cast will decide the path taken by the nation for the next five years. It is also poignant to remember that the mandate given by the people in these general elections will also be a referendum on the BJP government's performance in its last tenure. It will either be an acceptance or rejection of the BJP's politics and policies, and it will be for all of it. It cannot be a selective acceptance of the saffron party's nation-building and infrastructure development without the acceptance of the polarisation, communalism, demonetisation, lynching, NRC, and beef ban that have also been a part of it. Voting for Congress or the regional parties will be an acceptance of their past failures, corruption charges, possibilities of political instability, and promises of an India different from the one that has assumed centre stage in the last five years.

As citizens, our ideologies may be varied, our beliefs at loggerheads with each other; but if the democratic process is followed in true spirit and practice, then we shall all have the right to vote for whomever we trust. But do remember dear readers, that this time we vote not only for the next government that will come to power but also for the very idea of India. It is absolutely possible that that idea of India with its secularism, tolerance, and universal brotherhood, may not be wholly acceptable by the majority, but it sure is something worth fighting for. If you desire a change in that idea of India that has been our foundation since Independence, that has formed the backbone of our thinking, then so be it. But do be well aware of what you're signing up for and the future trajectory of the nation.

Read the manifestos of the various parties, understand what they promise to deliver. Don't go just by hearsay, hyperboles, fake news and propaganda; do your research, and then take a moment to think before you cast your vote. The will of the people is supreme and whatever be their decision will be known on May 23 and will have to be accepted. But as long as we jump or fall with our eyes open, fully aware of who and what we are voting for, then this election will be a success for democracy. Whatever be your decision, whoever your tribesman, do step out and vote. This brilliant dance of democracy will be incomplete without your vote, even if you choose to vote for 'None of the Above'.

(The writer is a journalist and media entrepreneur. The views expressed are strictly personal)

Shutapa Paul

Shutapa Paul

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