“Beep!” sounded the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) as it recorded my valid vote cast for electing a representative from my ward for the Kalyan Dombivli Municipal Corporation (KDMC). There were only 3 candidates in the fray this time:
1. Shivaji Awhad from Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) – Shiv Sena (SS) alliance (currently ruling the KDMC and National Constituency)
2. Nandu Mhatre from Congress (I) – Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) combine (currently ruling the State and Central Governments)
3. Vishwanath Deshmukh as an independent.
After days of intense (and noisy) campaigning, last two days were pretty peaceful thanks to the directive by Election Commission (EC) of India that prohibits any such thing 48 hours prior to elections. The EC also laid down several other guidelines which I liked – especially the steps taken to reduce criminalization of politics and control measures for wasteful expenditure.
Dombivli, being a highly educated and cultural hotspot of Mumbai, never had any brawls on Election Day. This was evident given the fact that only two uniformed guards were posted at the polling centre (Maratha Mandir, Dombivli west) where approximately 10,000 people were supposed to vote.
The 3 contestants were seen outside the polling station, trying all the last minute canvassing possible. There were lot of familiar faces and they greeted as my mom, dad and sister (and me of course) walked in. The election worker first read the name and number, while the other two workers repeated it loudly as they ticked off the names in their respective lists. My photo identification was scrutinized and I was handed over a slip with my name to sign across. The next lady (who was unable to speak Marathi) punched the slip away and asked me to produce my left hand. The purple ink was smudged on my finger (which I was proudly showing off later) and I proceeded to the secret ballot machine. Pressed the button of my selected candidate, but the machine didn’t respond – weird! I was prepared to press it again, but the officer retorted that the machine takes two seconds to sound the beep (which I later learnt was a feature built in to avoid foul play). Fine with me officer! As I emerged out of the room, the smiling faces from all the three quarters thanked me for voting and that it means a lot to them. Yeah sure it does.
Amazing how democracy assigns so much power to an individual. It’s another story how the same power is misused and abused over and over. Anyway.