Karnataka Assembly elections will be held on May 12. While there is excitement in slums to participate in the electoral process, the middle class and the rich are having only heated and intellectual discussion on why their participation does not make a difference, most candidates are corrupt, etc. But are they right? Very few ask what is their responsibility?
They argue that their votes do not count because politicians know how to “buy” votes from the poor and uninformed voters. While it is partly true, in many constituencies where the winning margin is slim, educated voters can make a difference by casting votes for more deserving candidates.
Today political parties also assume that educated voters do not make a difference since they do not vote. There is a big disconnect as a result between the educated and political leaders. Importance is given to get votes on divisive issues like caste and religion and not developmental issues. Only when educated and concerned voters get involved in large numbers it is possible to bring about transformational change.
Educated voters in Mysuru who can vote intelligently are more than 60% and thus can play a critical role in deciding the winners.
For this to happen, NGOs like Mysore Grahakara Parishat (MGP) besides holding debates need to have active drive to motivate voters to participate in the election.
However, for our democracy to mature and produce outstanding leaders like the ones we had soon after independence, we need to experiment with different ideas. Holding a public debate is one such idea and it is hoped that the educated and professional Mysureans will participate in large numbers. For those voters who always give the excuse that none of the candidates deserve their votes, they have an alternative. They can always vote “NOTA” (None Of The Above) and still participate in the election. If there are more NOTA than the votes polled for the candidate with the highest number of votes, the candidate with the highest votes will not have the moral right to claim victory though he is the winner legally.
The most difficult task is to bring about attitudinal changes in the voters to vote and vote intelligently. Voters need to be educated that voting is the most sacred duty to the nation. No use blaming our elected representatives since we elected them either by casting votes or by our negligence. Let us now change it by participating in the electoral process.
– Bhamy V. Shenoy, MGP, Mysuru, 18.4.2018
NOTE: While the aspirations of the correspondent and his request to the middle class and the educated to cast their votes are well-taken, I am afraid it is NOT the solution to get the “right” candidate elected because the voters, by and large, vote not on individual candidate’s merit but on the party lines.
Therefore, one solution to the problem seen by the correspondent could be in the political parties themselves selecting the right candidate — well-educated or one who has served the society in any given field or generally, a brilliant lawyer, one with a sense of concern for social issues, a retired bureaucrat or an army officer, engineer, doctor and a believer in democracy, secularism and social justice. — KBG
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