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Can we fix our democracy?
I was in Odisha's Sambalpur district on April 03, 2014 for some some professional work. I visited Sambalpur up to Chikhili of Bargarh district. My main work was to explore the various site locations for engineering work, however, as I had been interacting with various people regarding my professional requirements, I too enquired about the election environment.

I found that people in remotest areas of Sambalpur and Bargarh districts are aware of Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi apart from Naveen Patnaik. I feel that in the city, urban and semi urban areas, there is craze for Narendra Modi where as in the rural areas no particular craze to any side is visible.

When I returned to Sambalpur in the evening, I met local contractor for further feedback on my professional requirement. After the professional discussion, I just curiously asked, who’s going to win in Sambalpur and Bargarh area. What he said in fact surprised me and shocked too. His opinion is briefed as below.

In Sambalpur town, there is craze for Narendra Modi for Lok Sabha and Naveen Patnaik for Assembly election. Rural areas are mostly like bonded loyalists equally divided between Congress and BJD. In some places where RSS has some presence, BJP has some support, but practically BJP is not visible in most of the rural places in both the district.

Though the above fact is the reality, but it’s difficult who will win. In Sambalpur town, though BJP appears to be bit ahead, but the key voters are slum dwellers whose strength is around 8000 to 10000. Assembly seats are won or lost here with a margin of around 5000 votes.

Similarly in rural areas also, there are key villages/voters who sell their votes. The calculation is made a day before and then votes are purchased estimating the requirement. Expert mathematicians are available in all parties and you never know which village gave decisive votes to which party.

Is it mean that more the money power, more the winning chances? The gentleman again denied citing the reason that, nowadays voters (particularly those who sell their votes) too are very smart and accept money from every-party. However highest bidder gets these decisive votes. Earlier the local workers have control on such voters as they can’t deviate from the promise once they take money. People have asserted now and take money from all and still vote as per their understanding (mostly highest payer).

Who could be highest payer? To my question, the gentleman said, every party/candidate is capable of being the highest payer. It depends upon what is the integrity of the ground worker or says the real money distributor. He further clarified that no candidate ever pays money directly. The money is routed through trusted commander.

Many of the commanders always have their cut. Sometimes they distribute half the money or half the people and rest is pocketed by them. It’s business time for them. Thus it’s not the matter of money alone; it’s the honesty and integrity of the field worker who distributes money in night before voting day.

The gentleman was smiling. I felt very saddened of this anti-democratic trick. Already one of my friend involved in electoral politics revealed his experience about the villagers bargaining for selling their votes. This further information of deep rooted vote for cash culture literally made me frustrated.

Is our democracy now corrupt to such an extent? Is there no remedy of it. The gentleman however gave me a hope. He said this cash for vote is just limited between 5 to 10% of voters. Rest of voters generally gives their votes very honestly. However these purchased votes make the difference. To stop this, people need to be aware. The voting percentage should increase. The non-voting class, mostly middle-class does need to vote.

If voting percent increases to 75-85 percent, none can purchase any vote! Thus solution is with us. If a sizeable citizens (40-45%) remain ignorant to the participation in election, then such ugly things will continue! There is no fault in democracy; rather fault is among the citizens, especially educated middle class voters. 

The day, they start realizing their responsibility and start participating in the democracy including voting, all such bad things would go away. Once there was rigging of votes, booth capturing etc. Now those are things of the past and rarely happen because of increasing awareness. To avoid this money business, people need to vote and participate.

Will middle class especially non-voting class awake? The gentleman smiled again and said, “Someday they would must (awake) as the real victim of the system is the middle class. Rich gives notes (money), poor gives votes (against cash) where as middle class pays heavily because of its irresponsibility, non-participation and complacency. It’s not Sambalpur specific only. It’s a pan Indian phenomenon!”

Our democracy is not dented because of some corrupt politician or little percentage of voters selling their votes. Rather we middle class people allowed the democracy to be in such a poor condition due to our laziness, un-accountability and pure opportunism.

Do you agree with the conclusion?


Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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