October 16, 2011

October 17 is voting day!

Three days ago, I received a call on my cellphone.
The caller introduced himself as A. K. Moorthy of the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK).
I could not recognise the caller.

There are only two people from the PMK that I know fairly well.
One man used to be the chairman of the Adyar-based Chennai Corporation zone. He recently contested in the state Assembly election and lost.

The other is our contractor for the annual 'Mylapore Festival', the man who puts up the stages, stalls and pandals in the Sri Kapali Temple zone every mid-January.
I then realised that I was listening to a smart, recorded message from the PMK's Chennai Mayoral candidate, A. K. Moorthy.

The party's Anbumani Ramadoss calls him Action King Moorthy. There is some credence to that localised honorific. Moorthy is said to be pretty good at getting things done.
Many railwaypeople will tell you stories of how this man who used to be a Union railway minister got many projects moving for this part of the country.

Moorthy's political graph dipped these past years and now he seeks my vote and yours to be the city's Mayor.
His message was sharp and clear that morning. But I was not impressed. Anybody who says he will get rid of mosquitoes, clean up the garbage and address growing traffic problems is on to a beaten track and a tad dull for the city of Chennai that is Madras.

Our candidates for the post of local councillors say the same thing.
Not that these are not core issues that confront a neighbourhood. But surely, there are smart ways of setting a local agenda in a local election.

On October 17, you will have the opportunity to vote for your Ward Councillor as well as the city Mayor.
If you are serious, this is your best opportunity to get involved a little more in grassroot democracy.

The ballot is important. Casting it will need 30 minutes of your time. But if you think that the ballot can get rid of mosquitoes, garbage and potholes then I would advise you to go off on a weekend holiday to Yelagiri or to Bangalore.

Voting is just part of a process. The more important part is of playing some role in contributing to local governance.

Suggesting ideas and plans. Creating spaces for the elected to interact. Looking at civic budgets and following-up on projects. Civic audit. Lobbying. Campaigning. Collaborating.

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