Monday, October 13, 2014

Humor in Democracy - ELECTION DAY IN GIRINAGAR

HUMOUR IN DEMOCRACY

Maharashtra Elections are just two days away, on 15 October 2014.

It may be apt time for me to delve into my blog, and pull out a post I had written last year on VOTEBANK POLITICS.

Here is an extract from that article:

ELECTION DAY IN GIRINAGAR
An Apocryphal Story
By
VIKRAM KARVE

ELECTION DAY IN GIRINAGAR – An Apocryphal Story By Vikram Karve

This happened a few years ago when I lived at a place called Girinagar near Pune.

“I want the day off,” Sushila, our maid, asked my wife.

“Why?” my wife asked.

“We have to vote. Today is election day,” she said.

“That’s good,” I said.

I was quite surprised at Sushila’s eagerness to vote because Sushila was totally illiterate.

Yes, she lived just a few kilometres away from a modern city like Pune (often called the “Oxford of the East”) – yet, like so many others, she could not read or write.

But her keenness to vote indicated what a vibrant democracy we were.

“Who are you going to vote for?” I asked, in jest.

She told me a symbol – “I am going to vote for XXX symbol,” Sushila said.

“But why?” I asked.

WE have decided,” she said.

WE” meant her husband.

Apparently, her husband had gone for a “meeting” and it was decided that the entire neighbourhood will vote for XXX symbol.

“So you vote for XXX symbol every time,” I asked her.

“No, last time we all voted for YYY symbol,” she said.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because “WE” had decided,” she said.

Of course, she did not know anything about the ideology of the  political parties to which the symbols XXX and YYY belonged.

It was none of her business.

Before every election, it was the men who had a meeting and decided who to vote for and the women dutifully complied.

(Of course, the men had a “leader” who guided them in these matters)

Like Sushila’s husband, most of the men in that area were drunkards who lived off their wives’ earnings.

But all that did not matter.

In the patriarchal society that prevailed, the women dutifully obeyed their men, even if the men were good-for-nothing drunkards.

So, in Sushila’s family of 7 voters (she, her husband, her two sons and daughters-in-law, and unmarried daughter), all would be voting for the symbol XXX which had been “decided”.

Added up, it was quite a large number of votes in the locality, and since they all of them voted en-bloc for a certain “symbol” it was quite a sizeable “votebank”.

A few more such solid votebanks could ensure victory in the election, as the victory of the XXX candidate proved.

Around 3 in the afternoon we saw Sushila standing near our gate.

“Have you voted?” I asked her.

“No,” she said.

“Voting time will be over soon. Why didn’t you vote in the morning?” I said.

“They haven’t come to take us,” she said.

They haven’t come to take you? What do you mean?” I asked.

A friend of mine who had come over and was hearing the conversation said to me, “Don’t you know? Someone has to come and take them to the polling booth in a vehicle – and then they have to be given some inducement to vote  here the incentive is mostly a bottle of liquor for the men – these guys and their families will vote only after the men are given a bottle of liquor.

After some time, I saw a van arrive to take all them for voting.

In the evening we saw Sushila’s husband and her sons lurching in a drunken manner on the road – in fact, most of the men were drunk that evening after consuming the liquor being distributed freely on election day as an incentive for them to vote.

It was obvious that liquor was flowing freely on election day (though strictly speaking it was a “dry day”)

At night, when Sushila came to work, we saw tears in her eyes.

She said that her husband and her sons were drunk after drinking all the free liquor distributed on election day.

Sushila’s husband had thrashed her, as he always did when he was drunk.

And one of her drunk sons had beaten up his young wife too.

“See what you did?” my wife said to Sushila, “you voted for the person who gave liquor to your husband and sons – in fact, most of you women must have voted for those who are causing you more harm than good.”

What an irony!

Why did Sushila vote for someone who caused her more harm than good?

Yes, why do people vote for someone who causes them more harm than good?

VIKRAM KARVE
Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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Disclaimer:
All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the story are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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WOMEN’S VOTEBANK – A Distant Dream?  first 



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