As per Al Jazeera, approximately 900 million Indians are casting their vote to elect the next Parliament in less than month. This election is touted to be the first since India’s independence that will seriously challenge the country’s inclusive political culture. We’re used to the chaos and political buzz these days about which political party has more chances to win and which parties have made an alliance.
But have you ever wondered about the most important thing about elections? It’s your right to vote!
So, what are the things that you should be keep in mind before going to the polling booth?
Being an informed voter allows individuals to select candidates based on their stated platforms without relying on party propaganda or media coverage. By researching parties, their manifestos and candidates, informed voters are able to make knowledgeable decisions about who their votes support. We have so many political parties fighting the race of elections, but the common and popular ones are BJP, INC, AAP that we hear about from our parents or elders.
Don’t just go for what you hear, try to research about BSP, SP, CPI(M), etc, get to know their ideologies, action plans for the next 5 years as well.
The voter should be familiar with the basic tenets of political parties. Be it a presidential or city council election, candidates who seek to be elected to office share the vision for their time in office in their manifestos and their rallies. Voters should review this information and consider how it aligns with their personal beliefs about how their government should function, and if their promises are directly proportionate to the actions they have taken in the past in furtherance of their promises.
During the elections, the leaders usually target their voters, bribe them with food and alcohol, or make emotional appeals in the name of caste, religion, and a sense of belonging. The voter should be aware and should see through these appeals and false propaganda. Hence, it becomes important to follow their rallies, read a lot and base your choice on what you see and observe.
Pretty much, like the media, eh? The only difference would be that the mainstream media has made a conscious choice of becoming a part of the false propaganda of the parties. But, between the cacophony of the news channels, you must be aware of the current and real issues that should form the bedrock for your vote – be it jobs, road conditions, the reality of manual scavenging in the country, the state of education and healthcare.
Read! Get to know about the updates related to the elections, read newspapers, get on to online news portals, magazines or even news apps which would keep you connected to what’s happening in the political world. Know current issues, and what’s other political parties take on it, what do they say or quote.
Keep a track of the past and present political life of your contesting leaders and question. A democracy is always strengthened by the questions. As Ravish Kumar puts it, the citizens of the country form the biggest opposition of the ruling government.
If you’re not convinced of any of the contesting leaders and their agendas and aims, you’ve got an option to vote for none of them – NOTA. By availing this option, voters can reject all the candidates who have contested from that particular constituency.
Truth be told, it is, indeed, difficult to be an informed voter in the present political scenario which is dominated by hollow promises, false propaganda and fake news. But, that is all the more reason to strive to be as politically aware and vigilant as you can be.
Being apolitical and not having questions for the leaders in power is something that we, the citizens, cannot afford to be at this given point of time. Our secular convictions, inclusive spirit, political sanity – all of these are crumbling in our democracy. If not paid heed to, we might be paving way for the most difficult times our country has ever seen.
So, be informed. We need it. You need it.