Ladies and Gentlemen, tomorrow is the day I cast my vote to decide the future of my country. Yes the big Mela that is the Indian elections is in it's final stage. And Chennai, where I stay, decides it's candidates for the Lok Sabha tomorrow.
Now these elections have brought technology to the forefront of political parties. I'll give you a few examples. The other day I got a call from Karunanidhi! It was a recorded message in Tamil and I didn't understand most of it. But no doubt a new tool for the politicians.
Then there have been the websites. I've been through the Congress & BJP websites. I must admit I've been quite impressed with both. Then there were sites like Jaago Re and Google helping out with details of the contestants. That was also welcome.
What surprises me most though is the pathetic state of the Election Commission web site. It's like all things to do with the Govt in this country. It's complex, horribly organized, and the voter's list is in Tamil and not in any other language. Wow!
Now I've made an effort to find out who the candidates are, what my parliamentary constituency is( strangely enough this is not mentioned in your Election ID Card), what the agendas are of the political parties etc. And I still feel I don't know enough. I mean here I am, an educated guy, with access to the Net, TV, Newspapers and other Media and I still don't have the relevant info. What could be more weird than that?
The Election Commission has been doing fantastic work in having free & fair elections in our country. But it clearly needs to do more.
It needs to be more pro-active about furnishing information and this information should be made available in all the official languages of the country.
The Election ID Card should have all required details in it. You shouldn't have to go about searching what your constituency is every time.
It should also play a leading role in getting the electorate to know it's candidates better. I know that there will be many of you arguing that this is the duty of the candidate and not the Commission. But in keeping with the spirit of public funding of elections and equal opportunity for all candidates it is imperative that the Commission steps in. As a start the Commission could come out with a pamphlet/newsletter containing the details and agendas of all the candidates contesting the election in the particular constituency. Then there should be a forum where the public should be able to see these people actually debate their manifestos. I think this would go a long way in informing the voter.
Let's hope things change soon. In the meanwhile I'm happy I can vote. Jai Hind.