Election day

Early in the morning, while the milk was on the boil, Chandran and Selvam from Valagapattu came by, to exhort me to vote: “Your voting slips are with us, you are in our ward, come by 8 o’clock before the rush”.

I said that I knew that I was in their ward; and that I would definitely come to vote. Before leaving, a little awkwardly, Chandran said ” They have given me money to distribute: Rs 50/- per vote”. I said “Just give it to the temple”, and he left.

When I went to vote, I got voting slips for myself and Sonati (who was away in Assam) from Chandran, with the DMK symbol on it; everything computerised and neatly printed; none of the Marathi hand scrawls that I remember from my parents’ slips when I was young.

At the booth, the proprieties were maintained: I was asked to tear off the DMK symbol on my slip before entering the polling booth. Inside, the polling officer looked at my Identity Card and then at my face a little doubtfully: The photograph (taken some 15 years ago) had more hair and no spectacles , and I had more beard and specs on. I took off my specs and smiled at her, and she said “Athe sirrippu (The same smile)”. Everyone laughed, and I went to cast my vote.

Kumar, who was sitting inside, ticking off names on a list, was negotiating with the officer to let me cast Sonati’s vote, too, but she demurred; because of my “middle-class-ness” I suppose. (It is the done thing for the men to cast the wife’s vote if she is unable to come to the polling booth for whatever reason). I ignored that scene and walked out.

Outside, I reached Gopal’s kadai (Tea shop), and started talking with Ranganathan. Though we were far from the school (Polling Booth), a policeman came up and told us not to be within 200 metres of the booth (Chalk lines had been drawn to indicate this 200 m limit). So I walked off.

The carnival atmosphere was everywhere apparent: People dressed in their best, coming from the surrounding villages to cast their vote, and taking the chance for a tea and some talk… Groups of youngsters with Vijayakanth scarves around their necks… Old men and women who came because they felt that having been paid for it, they should vote… And of course, the “serious” ones with the DMK and AIADMK badges pinned on their shirts.

But there was absolutely no tension of any sort: the whole exercise was more of a social event, rather than a political one. As one youngster put it, “A Vote-election Thiruvizha”.

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One Response to “Election day”

  1. Another Election Day « Thekambattu Says:

    […] Two years ago, Chandran had come by on Election morning, with the “voting slips” and rather awkwardly offered me Rs.50 per vote. This year, he offered Rs.150 per vote. (The voting slips this time were distributed by the schoolmaster, and had no party affiliation). I refused once again, asking him to put it in the hundi at the temple on my behalf. But the amount -Rs.150- here, in the back of beyond, gives one a handle on the scale of the “money for vote” transaction: Staggering! […]

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