October 13, 2006

'Uncivic' civic elections

My experience on Friday, the day of the Corporation poll, has made me lose faith in the people who are in charge.
The police. The Election Commission.
And I am sure many others who wanted to or did take part in the election harbour the same feeling.
In the 2001 election, I was witness to a rape of the democratic process. Violence, intimidation and dereliction of duty at a time when the votes were being counted in the Corporation council elections of 2001.
In 2006, I have been witness to intimidation, violence and apathy in the polling booths.
From my office in Alwarpet, I notice a stream of SUVs slowing down on the main road. Hordes of young men jump out. They receive instructions from men dressed in starched khadi who remain in the vans or lean against them.
I expect the worst. For, this morning, minutes before I walked down from home to cast my ballot, a similar scene had taken place in Adyar.
I double up to the main road and walk into the campus of a Corporation engineering department.
The crowd of young men hang around till someone calls them into the booth. There are two booths here - one for men and another for women.
The group rushes into the booths, efficiently tears away the ballot sheets, shove an officer who dissuades them, and clinically drop the ballots into the box. The act is over in five minutes.
One policeman and one Home Guards person stand by and stare, helplessly.
Two others, who must have come here to cast their ballot remain on the sidelines and slink away.
I venture into the booth for men and share in the conversation.
A woman on duty is ashen-faced. She says she has never seen anything like this before.
The roughed up officer sits back in his seat, sipping tea, while his colleagues desperately thumb some numbers on a cellphone to report the 'act'.
All of them seem helpless. About 75 ballots have been torn apart. And stuffed in the box. How are they going to account for them? How are they going to answer their superiors?
The Home Guards volunteer calls me aside. He tells me that they have alerted the armed police. 'They could arrive any time so it's better that you go away,' he advises me. He does not want me to be caught in the line of fire in case there is violence.
There isn't. The place is deserted.
The mob has zipped down to the next booth. It has a job on its hands.
I have lost faith in the police. And in the Election Commission.


Francis Thomas said...

the trust was never there,was it?

there was also some violence outside my school,st.bedes.

is your offer for school-going reporters for the mylapore times still open?

~francis thomas

Anonymous said...

I voted for the Assembly elections and it was by contrast very orderly. I simply did not have the time to study who deserves my vote and hence did not go and vote. Does this violence in a local body election mean that more money is up for grabs in these elections?

- Sridhar.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I agree with you, we all have lost faith with electorals long back and this recent incident has proved it right.

I have also witnessed the similar thing happening in my area where voters were not allowed to vote by the local ruling party guys.

The more money is used in this local elections bcos the mayor is elected by the councillors and not by the people and hence horse trading will be more and demand will be more.

Anonymous said...

We should not loose our faith in elections. That thinking is more dangerous than this violence itself.

Instead of whining we should be part of the democratic process and do something constructively to curb this violence.