Yes; We Can! (?)

By Sandesh Prabhudesai (EdiThought)
04 February 2012 11:04 IST

It’s nice that a celebrity like Remo Fernandes has been projected as a Youth Icon by the Election Commission of India, in view of the forthcoming Assembly election on 3 March. Remo himself had become dejected once in the past, saying he doesn’t want to vote. There is no choice. It’s not Remo alone, but a general feeling that still prevails among many literate people that there is no point in voting since there is no good choice.

That’s the reason a suggestion like a choice button of “reject all” is gaining ground. Even chief election commissioner Y S Qureshi has responded positively to the suggestion. But does it mean that we should not go to vote till such a choice is not provided? The suggestion is not made to display our negativism through the Electronic Voting Machine. It’s positive. It may lead to re-election if majority presses ‘reject all’ button, till good choices are fielded by the political parties. It’s basically meant for fielding acceptable candidate. The negative vote has a strong positive approach to ultimately reform our electoral system.

It is a popular perception that the electoral system leads to more corruption rather than cleaning up the system. But, unfortunately, it’s not true. In fact corruption or money power can play a minimal role in any election, provided the voter is active and alert. In fact money or muscle power should not be an influential factor in any highly literate society, like Goa. But the problem is not literacy. It’s lack of education. Goan society is literate. But is it educated enough? Does the literate Goan take an ‘educated step’ of standing in a Q at the polling booth to vote?

Is there really no point in voting since majority votes are bought? Does it mean that majority voters who vote are corrupt? No! In fact the onus lies on those who don’t go to vote. Normally, the Assembly election records around 70 to 75 per cent polling. It crosses 80 per cent in villages and less than 55 per cent polling in the cities, the hub of the so called educated people.  When around half of the people or little less don’t go to vote, it’s obvious that the winner requires at the most 30 per cent votes, of the total electorate, to win.

The voter, at large, is divided like this. 10 to 15 per cent vote on the lines of caste or religion. 10 to 15 per cent vote for the party. Another 10 to 15 per cent vote because they like the candidate. And 10 to 15 per cent more vote because of the work – social or personal – the candidate has done. Hardly 10 to 15 per cent voters are managed with money alone.

In reality, the candidate can manage his/her victory because almost 40 per cent don’t go to vote. Can’t the picture be changed if this 40 per cent – most of it literate and educated – go out to vote? Can’t the picture be changed if this disintegrated 40 per cent come together to field or support a good candidate? Can’t the picture be changed if the demoralized 40 per cent start thinking positively? If it happens, then even the majority among the ‘traditional’ 60 to 70 per cent voters would think differently and vote for the good candidate.

However, what demands at this stage is a confidence building exercise. Let us go and vote. Let us choose the least harmful candidate, if the traditional non-voter thinks that all parties are nothing but different sides of the same coin. Let us go and vote even an independent candidate (not planted to split the votes, but) a sincere one. If we can’t find one, let’s vote the candidate, who is considered to be the weakest and a non-winner.

Because this vote needs to make a Statement, rather than making anybody win, if there is really no choice. A Statement that everybody is coming out to vote. A Statement that voting percentage can go up to 90 per cent. A Statement that the bad winnable candidates can’t get these non-traditional votes.

Let this be considered the first step. A first step towards integration of the disintegrated. A first step to terrify the bad candidates. A first step to come together through electoral process. A first step that Barak Obama took with a very very simple slogan – YES, WE CAN! If we do this at this moment, then, definitely we CAN take the second step, in the next election. A change that we desire. A change we have been crying for.

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Sandesh Prabhudesai (EdiThought)

Sandesh Prabhudesai is the Editor of goanews.com. He has been earlier the Editor of Sunaparant (Konkani daily) and Editor-in-Chief of Pruden (TV channel). His collection of selective editorials of Sunaparant has been published as 'Goff'. He writes brief thoughts as EdiThought for goanews.com, but not on regular basis.

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