The middle-class needs to vote…slum dwellers do it for a bowl of chicken soup!
Films stars influence people a great deal. We have a situation where mostly the slum-dwellers go out and vote. The elite sit at home and watch the elections on TV! Usually, during the civic elections in Mumbai (which are now round the corner), the average turnout is 35-45%. In some areas where there are hardly any slums, the turnout can be as low as 10%. The highest percentage of those who vote are from the slums. And they do it for paltry sums…even a bowl of chicken soup (see end of this write-up) suffices!
Preity wrote an article in the Mumbai Mirror, urging more people to vote.
“We all should be proud of Mumbai, and it’s very sad that lots of people don’t vote. If you go out there and do the right thing, it will make a huge difference to this city,” she says.
This article states:
“Sometimes, the turnout is as low as 4% (Gorai in 2002) or 14% (Geeta Nagar, Colaba in 2002). Sometimes, the outcome in a ward is decided by a flimsy margin of less than 200 votes, with voting highly segmented in favour of various parties. Little wonder then the winning margin last time in ten of the 227 electoral wards was less than 100 votes. And this despite the fact that most wards then had an average population of about 40,000.”
Excerpt from here:
“With more than 50 per cent of Mumbai’s 12-million-strong population living in slums-and the elite known to be notoriously apathetic – your candidates are very likely wooing the slumdwellers in the neighbourhood shanty town.”
Another excerpt from here:
“In Mumbai, the city formerly known as Bombay, the paupers have real political clout. Slum-dwellers constitute half of Mumbai’s 12 million citizens, and they are faithful voters. That makes them an important bloc for local politicians, most of whom promise to fight efforts to relocate them.”
The poor vote the most!
Politicians target slum areas and campaign there (and give them sops too) as that is where the numbers lie. Also, it is easy to buy votes in the slums. How can one blame an illiterate person who can barely feed his family if he gets a few thousand rupees to vote?
My maid tells me that the Shiv Sena party is paying Rs 500/- per vote in her slum. And if people can go around collecting votes, they are given lakhs of rupees. Young unemployed youth are roped in for this job. She admits that she too is voting for the Shiv Sena. Another maid of mine says she is voting for the Congress. Why? Because the Congress representative gave money to people after the 26th July Mumbai floods. Even those who were not affected got the money she says proudly. In fact both my maids (voting for different parties) were competing with each other while recounting what they ‘got’ to vote. They were listing the number of items that were presented to them and to the kids in the family too. One of my maids was thrilled that an added bonus was chicken soup!
Welcome to the reality that is India. Very few people care about the character of the person they vote for. For them an election is like a birthday…time to collect presents!
(Picture sourced from Starswelove)
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