Monday, May 4, 2009

Mumbai ducks the voting

The media has made a big thing about the poor voter turnout in Mumbai. The valor, compassion and other fantastic attributes given to the ‘Mumbaikar’ are a creation of the media and the page three intelligentsia. The real Mumbaikar is of several shades:

i) the businessman trader community who worship Goddess Lakshmi. They have no loyalties or affiliation and love any politician who helps them to make money, evading taxes in the bargain. They can afford all the worldly comforts, lack for nothing and do not care who is in power. They believe that everyone can be bought at a price. They talk in ‘petis’, ‘khokas’, etc ,;
ii) The middle class NDTV / Timesnow /CNN watcher. Typically working in offices, having comfortable lifestyles, with houses bought on housing loans. This Mumbaikar is one who likes to talk a lot, but will not go out on a limb to help anyone. His problems are focused on the EMI, school admission, and higher education for children etc., No time for politics and at heart, really does not care who comes to power.
iii) Same as above, but a government employee. Works for some form of government or a government company. Low working hours, some side money, pension, etc. Highest level of job security. Not concerned with who is in power. Limited ambitions, uses public transport and is more worried about train crowds rather than anything else. Generally does not vote.
iv) The slum dweller. Has migrated from Bihar, UP, Tamil Nadu. Is divided by religion and language. Sponges on the city, whilst at the same time providing a cheap source of labour for above classes. Always on the lookout for freebies and a high propensity to be argumentative and is the backbone on which the local politician and the gang lords thrive. Will vote for the highest bidder. Provides the crowd to all election meetings.
v) The chawl walas. Each and every suburb of Mumbai has this in large numbers. Pre-occupied with day-to-day living. Only aspiration is to buy a house. In the last few years, with this being out of reach, a high spender on things material. Watches soaps, sports and Barkha Dutt/Rajdeep Sardesai. Has an opinion on everything, joins rallies from time to time. Generally makes it to the polling booth with friends and family.
None of the above have any hidden agenda of trying to help anyone. Help is on if it does not come in the way of what my life is. I do not mind waving a few candles here and there. For 26/11, I am glad it was not me. On 27/11 I have to go to work. If not, I lose my job. Simple. Do not label it saying that Mumbai has ‘bounced’ back to normalcy. As they say in Hindi “Majboori ka naam Mahatma Gandhi”.

My friend, Rajrishi Singhal, in his blog “Monday Mocha”(see link) has written a very nice piece about the poor turnout. The irony is that people who sponge on Mumbai cast most votes. The sad part is that the intelligentsia or the thinking voter is so starved of choice in Mumbai. How do you vote for a Priya Dutt or a Deora? They have all made it big without doing a drop of work. It is not surprising that most MP’s have added so much wealth between two elections, but what is new is the openness about it. And of course, the election commission has added a new dimension. It has said that if there are falsehoods in the ‘affidavits’ filed by the candidates, it is not a big issue!! Wonder why bother with the effin affidavits at all?
In this election, we Manmohan Singh, who wants to be PM but not an MP!! This can happen only in India. A wimp who is scared to face the electorate and a demonstrated rubber stamp is a wannabe PM!! Shame, shame!! Or we have a rabid LK Advani with a team of fanatics, to whom economics is a second priority. Of course, not to mention the ladies’ brigade of Mayawati and Jayalalithaa!! With choices like this, do we want to vote?? Especially if I can use the voting day holiday and club it with a couple of days to get away from the hustle and bustle of it all.

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