Your space:Vote and be counted; make leaders accountable, say Pune residents
Many housing societies have begun a “No Vote” campaign to protest the failure of politicians to bring basic amenities in their neighbourhood, mainly water scarcity and absence of roads. However, is it correct to boycott voting as mark of protest? Readers share their response...Updated: Oct 20, 2019 16:33 IST
However despaired one may be with the current state of affairs, not voting will not be a protest, but a passive surrender. It is a defeatist and an imprudent response. In an election, about 50% cast their vote and a candidate securing 1/3 of these 50% votes gets elected. Not voting as a protest makes absolutely no difference to the election where already 40%-50% disinterested citizens don’t bother to vote. Elections are not just for political parties. If frustrated and angry, all such like-minded people and societies can come together and protest in a positive democratic manner by putting up a candidate from amongst them. They can educate voters by holding public debates, discourses, display banners and generate awareness especially in slums and economically weak areas which are perceived to fall prey to the ‘note for vote’ politics. Make such vulnerable voters aware of the purpose of elections, the power of their vote, the political designs, importance of voting for good candidates and not just symbols and, most importantly, how by selling their votes, they are harming their lives and destroying their children’s future. Right to vote is every citizen’s sacred and prime duty. Those who choose not to vote have no right to criticise or complain later. So, vote and be counted. Set positive examples for the next generation of voters to follow.
Form group, make public representatives answerable
Boycotting voting is not the way to solve civic problems. There are many housing societies in and around Pune city which are facing civic issues and lack basic infrastructure facilities also. If residents are deciding to show their protest by boycotting polls, one can understand their anger. But I feel it is not the way to tackle these issues. The best way is to make your representative accountable and answerable for your issues. Start with your ward member. Ask them questions and take the follow-up. Form a group and make the public representatives answerable. If needed, take legal actions against them. That is the best way to make them realise that they cannot escape their responsibilities. Election comes once in five years, but civic issues stay all these years. So, why wait for the election? Make your move now! Whoever wins the election, tell him/her that it is his/her constitutional duty to fulfil the demands of citizens. Create a pressure group and keep a tab on your elected MLA. Make him/her serve you for which they have begged for you in the election time! Do not forget that we, the votes, are their masters.
Boycotting is the last resort
Yes. Every time we vote, we expect that he/she will do the job. But if the job is not getting done irrespective of the political party, boycotting is the last resort. I live on Baner Pashan link road. The road outside of my society is too narrow for major traffic flow. There’s another proposed road parallel to the existing road, which is wider, but it’s been over seven years and no one has been able to come up with a solution. A lot of housing societies in our community have come together to protest time and again, but no action has been taken.
Not voting is denying our significance in democracy
Municipal corporation, legislative assembly and parliament have their own roles and significance in the structure of democracy. Expecting same deliverables from representatives at all these levels shows our lack of knowledge and understanding of the system. Local administration (municipal corporation) is responsible for availability and maintenance of infrastructural facilities and services in the neighbourhood. Members of legislative assembly (MLAs) and parliament have a broader role to play in forming laws and policies, at state and national levels. Citizens can demand implementation of schemes and projects at appropriate levels of representation. It would not be wise to hold a member of legislative assembly responsible for absence or inadequacy of local infrastructure or disruption in local service. Voting is our fundamental right, which must be exercised by every citizen to select their representative. Even if the voters are not convinced with available options to choose from, they can constitutionally express their disapproval by voting for NOTA (None Of The Above). But boycotting voting as a mark of protest is equivalent to denying our own existence and significance in the entire mechanism of democracy.
Identify good candidates and vote for them
Under the Representation of the People Act, 1951, even if only one vote is cast, while others abstain, the candidate getting that single vote is considered a winner. Hence, the logic of “no water no vote or no roads no vote” doesn’t make sense. Wily politicians will only take advantage of this situation. So, it is always better to identify good candidates and vote for them. We must not be thinking about a winning party, instead think about a worthy candidate and make him win.
Vote for our better future
Boycott voting is not a solution. To strengthen democracy, one needs to vote and be responsible. You should ask for accountability from political leaders, parties about commitment they give and follow-up. There has to be a group of citizens who should take follow-ups of commitments given by politicians with time bound use of social media and mobile app technology to report and pursue issues, e-governance with transparency. It will certainly bring a change in society. I think we all should vote for our better future.
Don’t vote if leaders are insensitive to civic issues
I am of the same opinion. Though boycotting is not the answer to the issue, but what else can we do when our chosen representatives are behaving insensitively? It is the only way left so that our voices are heard. Pune is going through a tough time and these MLAs and MP’s are only focussing on their benefits. In a city like Pune, why do we still have to contest elections on the topics of roads, water and waste management? For namesake we are a smart city, but are we really that smart enough?
If you don’t vote, you lose the right
I feel their emotion is correct, but their way of protesting is not. Being a part of the elections is every individual’s duty. It gives one the chance to critique their candidate. If you don’t vote, you lose that right. Even though the political party changes, people are the same. No one actually cares about doing good. The only way out is to actually have well educated people to represent parties. It finally is an individual’s choice. The results justify the means.
Exercise franchise and choose your option with care
Voting is our constitutional right and as much as we are disgusted with what the MLAs have not done for us, we cannot deny ourselves the opportunity of exercising our democratic choice. Who we vote for, even if we press on NOTA, is the option. In the past, bad candidates have been voted only because of our attitude of “how will one vote make a difference?” So you see residents proceeding in large numbers on vacations. Basically, it is the need of the hour that our citizen groups need to become stronger to demand our rights as taxpayers. So, collectively we flex more “muscle” power as compared to political parties, who need to look over their shoulder when even thinking of doing anything wrong. Henceforth, residents must hold constituency sabhas to question the MLA in public once in three months. Moreover, residents need to demand that elected representatives/candidates
(1) Press for Right to Recall Act must become reality, just as we have Right to Elect. The glaring gap allows elected politicians to generally do exactly what they want when in power.
(2) Once voted in / out candidates do not disappear for the next five years to only come to us during the next voting season
(3) Stop campaign rhetoric as we are sick of them developing amnesia after elections are over
(4) Stop giving in to self-centered demands of unions and start working towards larger pubic interest
(5) Stop unharnessed public (especially flyovers and bridges) and private construction activity in self-interest. Look at simple solutions at ground level.
(6) Start looking at sustainable development which includes protection of green cover, climate and ecology imbalance
(7) When voted in have to solve issues at state level such as (i) laying roads according to existing norms (ii) framing bye-laws for vector diseases (iii) garbage segregation and management (iv) policy for equitable supply and distribution of water (v) framing and implementing policy on hawkers (vi) control on unbridled illegal construction
However, what we have seen from some MLAs / MPs is to support those who are committing wrong, protect the violators by asking for fines to be reduced / waived. It must be not forgotten that we get the lawmakers that we deserve. So, exercise your franchise, but choose your option with care.
Will vote for candidate who visits ground zero
Take the case of Bhau Patil road in Bopodi, considered as a parallel of Pune-Mumbai old highway. In the 2005 monsoon, rainwater entered several buildings in Pragathinagar area, including Goyal Shinde Park, Nav Gitanjali and residential societies in the vicinity and municipal park, resulting in evacuation of the stranded by the fire brigade. Now , in 2019 , there was an “action replay” involving more buildings in the Shanta society, near IT Park. Water entered even Bhau Patil road near Chhajed petrol pump. Let the candidates undertake a padyatra from Ambedkar chowk to the petrol pump via Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Chowk on east side and return along the opposite side via IT Park, where there is no footpath on the entire stretch. We will vote to whomsoever undertake the journey by foot. A new park is promised in Shivajinagar. Existing municipal park on Bhau Patil road in the name of Shivaji Maharaj is unapproachable for seniors. It was developed by the then mayor, inaugurated by the governor, who was later the President of India, in the presence of dignitaries like the then chief minister. The commemoration plaque is also missing from the Park.
NOTA should be exercised
I agree that the politicians have been taking voters for granted. They make their presence felt during polling time to seek votes, do some cosmetic improvements and disappear after getting elected. I wonder why is the voter is gullible year after year. NOTA should be exercised for the politician to know what voter thinks about him/her.
Commander Sharat Jain (retd)
Voting is vital for healthy democracy
Every resident craves for good infrastructure for a happy living. Pune is seeing residential and commercial buildings coming up randomly, but roads, streetlights, water and security are lacking. Residents are right when they say “no infrastructure, no vote” as they are daily facing problems because of poor civic facilities. Yet, in democracy every vote is important and citizens must exercise it. Not giving vote is not the answer to inactive representatives or authorities, because in spite of that someone is going to be elected who might have the gall to say that you people have not voted so don’t make complaints. So, it is better to vote for a good candidate and be an alert citizen. Become a person/group who will always hammer the representatives and authorities for the good work. Voting is vital for healthy democracy and no one should abandon it.
Maya Hemant Bhatkar