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Millennium Post

Will Indian voter please stand up?

Who really is the Indian voter? Is she the city-dwelling, metro-hopping or sedan-riding, software engineer, for whom Twitter is the ultimate platform to voice her political opinion? Or, is he the wheat farmer in a remote heartland who has faced enormous crop damage because of unseasonal rains in the previous months? Is she the medical practitioner who, after reluctantly living out her ‘slog years’ attending patients at an unfashionable part of the country, rediscovers meaning of life as an election volunteer? Or, is s/he the transgender who only recently has had the pleasure of becoming an official non-male, non-female ‘third gender’, for whom we probably need a lexical innovation and incorporate more inclusive pronouns? All these descriptions, it is needless to say, barely even touch the tip of the staggering diversity that paints in myriad colours of culture and ritual, region and language, religion and political imagination the rugged terrains of our demographic landscape, of which the median voter is a variable unit. In fact, in the enormous exercise that is Indian electioneering, a marvelous feat of both logistical ambition and sheer audacity of hope, defining the voter has been the most neglected aspect of a wide range of political paraphernalia.

However, if Election 2014 is an indicator, the voter has both claimed and relinquished his/her space in this year’s electoral bedlam. An educated Indian voter is as much a VIP, a very important person, as those flaunting security personnel in SUVs, as demonstrated by a young student in Hyderabad, who stood up to the culture minister Chiranjeevi’s misguided attempt to jump the voting queue on 30 April. It is this wonderful right to vote, the constitutionally guaranteed universal adult franchise that makes citizens of persons and acts as a great leveler, social and political. The voter is both the king and the joker in this huge electoral carnivalesque, this brilliant theatre of choosing a fresh Lok Sabha, cleaning the dregs and drivels from last term’s representatives, carefully retaining those who showed capability, and delightfully, expectantly placing bets on the yet untried and untested.

Voting is the ultimate civic duty, and the Indian voter has kept pace with the stride of technology, happily taking to electronic voting machines from ballot boxes, despite often being situated on the other side of the digital divide. With two more poll phases left to go, the behemoth of Indian democracy breathes heavily, belches and screeches its frustrations and laughs out its triumphs. Whether they be long-neglected wives of superstar politicians, or the mother of a Kargil martyr, whether it’s a media mogul with sweeping stakes across broadcast and print platforms, or a newspaper editor scrounging for difference, it is their vote that makes them equals. India, be inked.
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