Election are buttons in a representative democracy. It is through election that we are represented when we cast our votes. Unless we vote, no one can make decisions for us. That is what our Constitution guarantees us. It is a proud achievement that we Indians represent the largest democracy in the world. And election in this country has become no less than a festival. Festivals tell us something about faith but also the unquestioning adherence to the God of the festival. And so it seems is our faith in democracy. The truth is that we unquestioningly submit our rights so that they be represented through the representative we choose. Should we do that this time too?
It is election time, all are in the mood but are seeking answers without the right questions. Do we as voters have questions that the representatives we are about to choose need to answer as intending candidates? Do we count how many promises were made in the last election and how many were fulfilled? In most cases the same rhetoric and promises and projects are repeated in a different fashion. There is no doubt that the manifesto that a party brings out outlines the objective of the party and goals to be achieved but how sincerely it materializes into achievements is the larger question. And thus comes the need to frame questions as an individual voter as a sort of ‘counter- manifesto.’ And this is no rocket science. These questions are simple, logical, reason- based and with true ‘democratic spirit’ that will bring out the means as to how the ‘to be’ representatives will carry out the promises and assurances they make during the election campaign or the goals in the party manifesto. This question as counter-manifesto may be based on the simple ‘Interrogation’ lessons from our high school grammar like who, where, what, why , how – and aimed at four broad pillars that govern our daily life i.e Social, Political, Economic And Socio– religious. Let’s see how these question may be individually framed.
This should tell us who we are to choose. It should also reveal some finer aspects of his personal character like educational qualification, awareness on contemporary issues in the world, nation and region that concern the society on all the above four pillars etc. Individual voters may look for ‘deeper truths’( criminal background, corruption charges etc.) about the person she / he would like to vote through this question of ‘Who’
As we all are aware, a person gets elected for five years. By raising this ‘when’ an individual voter should be able to know the “timeline” within which the promises and assurances will be delivered.
The question of ‘what’ should make an individual voter know the economic promises that are made. These actually are public goods that form part of our rights. Such goods include roads, education, sanitation, electricity, health, social security etc. A voter should be very keenly observing such economic promises else they mostly end up as rhetorics.
Among the questions, ‘how’ is the means through which the promises will be achieved and delivered. As we are familiar that the ‘to be’ representatives promise everything on paper or in the words they utter but they hardly ever tell the voters how the promises will delivered. Delivery needs mobilization of resources and creation of capital – economic, social and political. The individual needs to be extra vigilant in how the resources will be distributed to achieve the promises and assurances made during the campaign.
Why is from where this whole creation can be conceived and unlearned by a human mind. So, by raising this question an individual voter should able to know the motive and intent of a ‘to be’ representative such as ‘why he want to represent us ‘ and why we submit our ‘rights’ to the state through him.
Under article 324 of the Constitution, we are guaranteed a free and fair election by empowering the Election Commission the power of superintendence, direction and control of elections. But unless we the voters question, elections may be ‘free and fair’ but an abstract chain of ‘faith’ tethers it to an unquestioning mind. Also who does the people, in “We the People’ in the preamble of the Constitution stand for. Sovereignty lies with the people and election is the first tool to realise that. Frame your questions well. Let us question incisively and with reasonableness
Student, M.A History.