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People sell their votes for cash - Is this democracy?
A friend of mine from Sambalpur, Odisha, who is a political party worker, revealed me his startling and uncomfortable campaigning experience. The polls are scheduled to be held on 10th April 2014. Whenever he went to a village to explain his party stand, achievements and future stand, all immediately suggested him to talk to their village head.
When he contacted the village head, the head immediately asked what would be party’s bargain for each vote. That means the villagers authorized the head to negotiate the cost of each vote.

There was a clear indication, which suggested that the highest auctioneers will at least get 80 percent votes from the village. My friend tried to talk about the manifesto, but the head clearly said that no one is interested to read into so many promises. It was business time and he should straight away come to point.

My friend wasn’t even authorized to negotiate or bargain on that. Thus he simply informed his higher authorities about the fact. To his surprise, his superiors weren’t disturbed rather asked him to identify how many villages are seeking bargain and the number of voters in that village as well. He was advised not to worry as this is a common practice since decades.

My friend was somehow not convinced and retired from campaigning in that area. His party men would be definitely bargaining with such villages as their only motive is to win the elections – by hook or crook. My friend was in a state of shock on the demand of behaviour of well to do villages. He knew that slums and very poor community sell their votes against cash, but, he was utterly surprised how villagers as a whole bargained their votes for cash.

But this is order of the day. We call politicians as corrupt, but we bargain with the contestants for our votes. Some do sell their votes for cash, some for kinds and others in the name of community, religion, caste and other biases. Fact is that many of us are corrupt in voting or electing our representatives, yet we never tire in blaming politicians as corrupt.

Let us take some other examples. We never hesitate to pay a clerk so that our file can move ahead of others. We never mind to purchase a cinema ticket on black to fulfill our aim to see a film first-first day show. When TTE says that he can give a berth of our choice, we never mind to pay him that extra money. When we violate the traffic rule, we try to bribe the policeman less than prescribed fine.

Let’s take it little further. In recent Parliamentary session, visuals of pepper spray and brandishing knives were harshly criticized. But we conveniently forgot that we are champions of hooliganism. Be there an unfortunate accident or some other incident, we exhibit our super capability of vandalism. We immediately set the vehicles on fire, break the nearby shops, beat some helpless guys (being a part of mob) and either we loot public property or help others to do such kind of shameful acts.

A bit further, if we have daughters, we raise our voices against dowry. In case of our son’s marriage, we advocate for tradition. Point is very simple, we bear dual character. As long as we don’t suffer, we don’t mind ways and means that may be unethical, unconstitutional and inhuman. The moment we see our loss, we start screaming about fundamental rights, constitutional entitlement and humanistic liberty.

When Election commission declares voting schedule, we plan our vacation. Because the voting day is a holiday and should be enjoyed as entertainment day! How can we stand in a queue to vote dirty people? This is against our status and ideology. Thus we remain distanced to dirty work such as voting, politics and politicians. But yes, as fundamental right we use our freedom to express criticism towards politicians, elected representatives and most importantly the system.

We are never interested to realize that what is fundamental right is in fact a fundamental duty and constitutional obligation. Democracy not only gives us right but demands obligations as duty. The constitution makes us the master of democracy. At the same time it vests responsibility on the master to make this democracy function properly. We enjoy the rights and freedoms. But, still we never make ourselves accountable to constitution rather we make ourselves as non-participating hard core critic of the same system that makes us masters.

Have we thought a little differently? If our representatives are corrupt, then somewhere, we too are corrupt. If the system is faulty, somewhere our intention or deeds are also faulty. If our politicians are irresponsible and not dedicated to the nation, somewhere we too are irresponsible to the democracy and not dedicated to the Constitution.

The point is simple. To be in a democracy, we need to deserve to be in a democracy. You can’t expect everything to be alright and systematic without your participation. A monarchy can run systematically if the king is right. But a democracy can’t run righteously if its masters are irresponsible, opportunists and unaccountable. A master with dual character always becomes a liability to his kingdom. Have we ever thought about it? No, because we are here just to enjoy our rights and not to fulfill our duties.

There is a famous Chinese proverb, which translates into goat like people get wolf like rulers. We have been given a democracy, because of a number of sacrifices. Have we ever realized our role in this democracy with respect to those martyrs? No, we always use the name of those martyrs to blame the system, the polity and the politics just ignoring our opportunist escapism from our accountability. 

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 In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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