Delhiites as a people may be well known for a lot of qualities, but voting in the elections has never been one of them.
Looking at the dwindling turnout figures in past elections in the Capital, it is easy to believe that a recently launched television ad that teases the viewers with a slogan “If you're not voting, you’re napping” was actually aimed at the Capital.
In the assembly elections five years ago, for instance, only about 43 per cent of the total voters chose to vote. Although equally abysmal, the number rose to about 45 per cent in the latest civic body polls last year.
But has staying away from the polling booths helped the residents in any way?
“Not at all,” said political analyst and psephologist Sanjay Kumar of Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS). “One cannot hope to change things for the better by not voting,” he said. “Not having a fully functional democracy is in fact worse than the problems faced within a democratic rule.”
“If you think you need to make politicians more accountable, then do vote and take part in chalking out a job for him for the next five years,” said Arvind Kejriwal, RTI activist and Magsaysay award winner.
These words of wisdom are not likely fall on deaf years on Saturday.
In a recent HT-C-Fore survey of Delhiites across the city, an overwhelming majority said they needed their MLAs to fix problems, and even outlined the key issues as an electorate.
Shantanu Mitra, a chartered accountant in Chittaranjan Park, his wife Arati and parents chose not to vote in the last assembly polls. “We didn’t vote as a protest against bad water supply in the area and some amount of price rise. But clearly, that did not make any difference,” he said in a lighter vein.
So, this year will be different. “We will all queue up at the polling booth early Saturday. We will not be napping,” he said.