Does voting make a difference? What kind of a silly question is that? I’ve been voting intermittently over the last 20 years and look at all the momentous changes that have happened — the internet, mobile phones, India’s information technology revolution, our moon mission. Where would all this be if I hadn’t voted for the right candidates? Heck, just because I slipped up once and voted for the JD(U) instead of the JD(S), we not only missed the opportunity to have a joggers’ park in our neighbourhood, but China became a great manufacturing power instead of India.
So I’m definitely going to vote, especially now that Preity Zinta has told me to. But the big question, one that’s giving me sleepless nights, is: who do I vote for? It’s easy to decide in the US, where you took one look at Barack Obama and saw he was young and black, while John McCain was old and white, and you knew immediately who you had to elect. But in India we’re spoilt for choice.
True, BJP’s L.K. Advani is older than Congress’ Manmohan Singh, but then he’s a weight-lifter. On the other hand, Manmohan Singh has pointed out that Advani is an iron man who quickly melts. If true, it might complicate matters. Imagine if there are talks about a strategic partnership with the US going on and in the middle of his speech Obama turns and finds, not the Indian Prime Minister, but a lump of molten iron.
Though some say it may not make that big a difference. Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has said the Congress is a budhiya (an old woman) but then he also said it’s a gudiya, or doll, which is not such a bad thing. See how well Barbie is doing. The other good things about the Congress are that cute little Rehan Vadra has told us to vote for Uncle Rahul and the slogan ‘Desh ka danka, Priyanka’ rhymes really well, although I have no clue what a danka is. On the BJP’s side, remember they have GPRS as well as Bluetooth, which should give them an edge. Also, Jaswant Singh has been dancing with pretty girls in Siliguri, which is nice.
To add to the confusion, Manmohan Singh has said that the Left is on the wrong side of history. Which means, of course, the Right is the right side of history. But that would make the BJP even more right, right? Also, the Left would say the Congress is on the Right side but on the wrong side of history, which is rather baffling. And the Samajwadi Party, with its ban on computers, is in the 19th century, which means it’s on the back side of history.
I’m tempted to vote for the BSP because its candidate from Pune has 28 cars and I too like cars, although probably not that much. On the other hand, Mallika Sarabhai has a big red bindi, which is such a lovely style statement. I also feel sorry for poor P. Chidambaram, because of the shoe thrown at him and for Lalu Prasad Yadav, because Sushma Swaraj called him a jallad or hangman. But I’m disappointed about candidates ignoring serious issues. For instance, nobody has spelt out what they plan to do with the two out of every three urban Indian women who are overweight.
So it’s really difficult to make up our minds. No wonder Karnataka’s BJP Home Minister attended a Congress rally by mistake and Salman Khan is campaigning for a Congress candidate in Mumbai, an NCP contender in Vidarbha and a BJP nominee in Punjab.
Perhaps the way out is suggested by the MNS candidate from south-central Mumbai, who has distributed 50,000 free whistles, the whistle being her election symbol. What if other parties followed her example? The BJP could distribute lotuses and the CPI(M) hammers and sickles, although it could get gruesome if the Congress starts cutting off hands and giving them away. As for me, I’ve always wanted an elephant. If Mayawati starts distributing them, she gets my vote.
Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint