|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
One man's crusade to make people vote
A Correspondent in Mysore | May 08, 2008 13:52 IST
His is a one-man mission. A 'Vote you must' campaign across Karnataka.
Vasanthakumar Mysoremath goes round urban centres in the state during elections and tells voters: "Vote you must to prove that you cannot be taken for granted."
He was in Mysore recently asking voters to vote in the May 10 election as a challenge and create history by 'scoring' 80-85 per cent polling. "Yes, it is possible. If all vote," he says. He laments people's apathy, in particular that of the youngsters, in exercising their franchise.
In 1999, around 301.9 million did not vote. The government spent Rs 880 crore on the polls. "Don't forget this burden will fall on you also, even if you do not vote," Mysoremath reminds all, saying that the government's poll expenditure has grown by leaps and bounds, from Rs 10.45 crore in the first election in 1952 to Rs 880 crore in 1999.
He has been on his lonely campaign from 1999. Sporting a gold-laced Mysore turban, a tradition inherited from his grandfather who was in the court of Mysore Maharaja Krishnaraja Wadiyar III, the social activist spreads out computer printouts, opens his laptop and presents a programme on 'Vote you must, why?'
He does not believe in rolling up his campaign into an organisation but, "conduct my awareness programme out of my pension money," the former audit officer of the accountant general, controller & auditor general of India, says.
"Our election system is afflicted by AIDS," Mysoremath says, during his campaign in Mysore. AIDS, he expands it to "Alarmingly Infected Democratic System. If we allow this to continue, it will lead to anarchy," he warns.
"Ours is the biggest functional democracy in the world no doubt; but, it is going into the hands of the minority that gets elected," he bemoans citing the example of Jayamahal Extension, a residential area housing top bureaucrats and powerful politicians in Bangalore. "Last time, the polling here was just around 45 per cent," he laments and claims that his campaign in association with a local NGO has seen a better turnout in other recent polls.
"Don't sit at home making cynical comments. Go out and vote; be a part of the change-effect. Don't allow criminals and the corrupt get elected, Mysoremath says and reminds voters, "Vote for a national party, vote for the least criminal of them."
Optimistic of his campaign, Mysoremath sees light at the end of the tunnel and points to the strict enforcement of norms by the Election Commission, which he says a right step to cleanse our election system and society.
"Further to this, we must demand an amendment to the Constitution to enable us to recall an incompetent and corrupt representative," he adds.