Another Election Day

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!

Of course, I heard from disgruntled people later on, that Chandran gave them only Rs.100 per vote, and that he was given Rs.250, no Rs.300 per person to distribute. God, too is part of this deal: the temples in the villages get the first “money for vote”,  Rs.2500/-.

This time around, Sonati was also at home, and the two of us set off at about 8.30 am and were surprised at the length of the queue already formed. Sonati joined the ladies’ and I joined the gents’ queue. In spite of the hottest summer in 10 years, and perhaps the hottest day this summer, the carnival atmosphere was great to see.

Old people and mothers with infant children were allowed to jump the queue; this led to a few comic interludes: Young boys and girls who could by no stretch of the imagination claim that status became, for the day, babes-in-arms. There was also an alleged traffic in babies, which led one wag to comment that the babies, too, should have their index fingers marked with indelible ink.

One (not very) old woman -a friend of ours and a rogue- was bent over, and staggered in following a bent old man into the polling booth. On the way out she was magically erect and much younger than when she went in.

Most of this queue-jumping was taken in good part. In fact, Sonati, too was being exhorted by the women in the queue to jump the queue: “You are not used to the sun, we are; go on, go ahead”. But Sonati didn’t.

We had to wait for close to two hours, and since I did not have a cell phone, I had to borrow one and call Badri Baba at home to do the re-kneading and second rise of the bread that I had started in the morning. The actual vote-casting was pretty smooth and when we emerged, we hailed all the people we knew in the queue and moved out.

At Gopal’s kadai, Gopal’s wife ushered us indoors because her shop was in the 200m “no gathering” zone, and she had already been warned by the police not to let people hang around. We ate a banana each, and left for home, flashing our index fingers at whoever we passed by: “Vote potaachu“.

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4 Responses to “Another Election Day”

  1. Meena Says:

    Two hours in queue calls for a lot of patience. We went at 10, saw the queue and came back home. I went again at 11.30, saw the queue, and left on some errands. Madhavan went around 2, voted with zilch queue, though at that time the ladies’ queue was longer. I went at 3; again, gents’ queue was zilch, ladies queue small, I waited in queue for 15 minutes and voted. Some advantages of having the voting booth so close to home; one can frequently poll the queue!

  2. sunder and sonati Says:

    The two-hour-ness of our queue stayed through the day: The ladies queue became vote-as-you-come at about 4.30. As for the men, they closed the gates at 5 o’clock and the voting carried on till 7 pm. Those who came after 5.15 were not able to vote.

    What about the paisa? Was money slipped into your newspaper? Were your cell-phones magically topped-up? The brazenness of money-for-vote was something else this time,

  3. The Mother of all elections | Thekambattu Says:

    […] and the DMK gang didn’t show up at all. Having become used to my refusing to take money, they probably decided to save their breath. On offer was Rs 500 per […]

  4. Lina Says:

    Found this old story as riveting as your latest. Im shocked – am i naive – at this open cash system! But the details were enjoyable 🙂

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