The hour I spent at the Chiranjiv Bharti School in Sushant Lok, Gurgaon earlier today washed away any feelings of patriotism or civic sense that I’d summoned to cast my vote. The 3 stalls outside the school building were full of anxious people crowding around 2 officials posted at each stall. It took me some harried enquiries and jostling to find out that despite my Election Card, I needed to ensure that my name was indeed present on one of the 4 printed lists for Gurgaon residents. That list was also going to indicate the room number I’d have to wait outside to exercise my candidate choice.
After some pleas and grovelling, I was able to scan 2 lists full of b/w thumbnails of voter photos but didn’t find the 2 faces that mattered to me. To add to the frustration, they were randomly arranged so I was supposed to spot my entry from a poor print of Kishore or my face on one of the several pages – well, I didn’t find any photos resembling us.
Having been enthused by Tata Tea’s Jago Re campaigns, I wasn’t going to give up easily. I decided to merge in the crowd pleading 2 RWA volunteers in one of the 3 stalls to scan all 4 lists on a CD with voter ids. It seemed thoughtful of the volunteers to have arranged a cd with a laptop to do this good deed for their fellow Indians. But they seemed troubled, tired, dehydrated and at the end of their tether of patience. People were screaming out their names and addresses for checking, brandishing their Election cards and trying to pull off any print-outs they found in each other’s hand. In a way, it was amazing to see their determination to cast their vote. But this confusion only added to the woes of the volunteers who were grappling with multiple lists even on the CD to look for a single name! They’d keep telling people to go back home or go inside the school building and complain to officials rather than waste their time.
After exercising a mix of cajoling and patient waiting, when my card finally appeared in the volunteer’s hand, in my mind, I re-visited the problem of who to vote for. None of the election candidates had carried out any noticeable campaigns in New Gurgaon and, judging from the state of the city’s infrastructure, the performance of the elected candidate in the previous years had been appalling. Well, I thought that I should still do my bit to ensure that at least the roads getting paved don’t languish and the Metro actually arrives here in 2010. It seemed though that destiny had other plans and neither Kishore’s nor my name could be found by the volunteers. This is when we’d cast our vote in the previous elections from the same location, using the same Election cards!
We decided to try our luck at the last point of checking – inside the school building where 2 officers were armed with 4 lists of alphabetically arranged names. Here, we could only get to 3 lists but not our names. Then, coming back home to share this experience and scanning the Net for officers to register our protest with, seemed to be the only recourse…
It was so clear that the contestants had not only no interest in our vote, they had put in ‘systems’ in place to ensure that they got minimum votes so their comfortable positions weren’t affected.