A complete voting experience!

A first time voter's views on the 2006 Assembly Elections - Tamil Nadu, India

Born in 1987, my first chance to vote came on 8th May, 2006. Living in the largest multi-party democracy in the world and existing in an age where everything is hyped up by the media, the run up to the elections, the actual voting process, the post analysis and finally the results naturally fascinated me.

Being a teenager whose fickle mind is susceptible to a variety of factors, many of them trivial at times, my decision was based on the following reasons. To begin with, I was influenced by a recent Hindi movie, Rang De Basanti, which potrayed the rise of today's youth in Indian politics. Moreover, the knowledge that this time, a group of IITians (students of the Indian Institute of Technology, perhaps the most reputed and sought after educational institution in India) would contest impressed upon me the importance of us, students, expressing our views. In addition to this, the views of my parents and grandmother (who have never missed voting in an election) and the mini political debates and discussions we had, made me realize that as a citizen it is my responsibility to participate in not only criticizing my government but also actually choosing it. It made me realize that my single vote counted, even in the midst of a few million others!!

Secondly, it was again the media; this time the small screen. I watched various analysts on several news channels scrutinize the performance of the government in power, follow leaders on their campaigns, talk to various candidates, discuss the manifesto of various parties and rope in the general views of various sections of the public. I learnt how to critically view the current government's actions against its promises five years ago, the accountability of the leader/party and the feasibility of actual execution of various promises!! Obviously, a factor that also weighed upon me was the extent to which I would personally be affected by the proposed agenda of the concerned party.

Thirdly, the realization that this time around the elections were no longer centered around 'personalities' but the actual public and the people, deeply affected me. The very fact that each party was vying to be the one to promise the most benefits proved this! It made me understand that we - the people - were important; no longer were past achievements of famous predecessors sufficient!

Lastly perhaps, it was the knowledge that after exercising my franchise, I had the right to remain silent and keep my vote a secret, which empowered me as a citizen of my country, that sealed my decision to vote!!

I must say though that I was perhaps part of the most organized elections ever held!! (These impressions I got from talking to various elders in and around my apartments). Personally, I was extremely satisfied with the voting process (held in a single phase throughout the state!! ) and even a little excited about being among the first to vote electronically in India!

About my actual voting decision, I must say that I was quite confused. I was undecided as to whether I should vote for the party of my choice (who I hoped would come to power ultimately) , or whether I should vote for the candidate of my choice in my constituency. I decided upon the former after much self debate - rather self consideration as to which move would benefit me more personally.

I thought the exciting part was over...But no! I must confess that it was on the counting day that I was most enthusiastic! I was on the edge of my seat, with my fingers constantly on the remote, toggling between various channels, eager to know who would form the next government! The fact that these elections were close, made this process all the more exciting and it was nearly an hour to the finish when finally the trends became decisive.

All in all, I must say that my first participation in an election was an exciting learning experience!

May, 2006


Sowmya said...

hey..seems like u've had an awesome vacation!! gr8 man..internship at the hindu office..awesome!! n hey..cool man..u've started votin!
nice blog! keep posting da!

Archun said...

yeah man! I did...loved this particular experience also...really felt like an Indian...