The first time I ever voted was in these elections. I’ve lived in Bangalore for 8 years and I figured I’ve lived here long enough to be eligible to vote. This was before I found you that you only need to be in a place for about 6 months before you’re eligible. I wish someone had told me that. In fact, I wish someone had told me a lot of things because I asked the questions, I just didn’t get any right answers.
So I got out this time. Determined to register, come hell or high water because I’m so tired of uneducated, idiotic politicians who come into power despite us, because of us not voting. Tired of the shenanigans of the current government, depressed at the realisation that bribery and corruption are now accepted as matter of fact instead of being condemned. Tired of watching that policeman take money in public because no one is going to say anything. What’re you going to do? Go to the police?
So I went. Googled the location and numbers of where I needed to go to register. Called about 20 people before someone told me to go to the BMP in Indiranagar. I was given convoluted directions, not a single person spoke Hindi, let alone English, I had to walk around for AN HOUR before I found them. I went to the BMP and they couldn’t find a form in English for me to fill. I get the hint. Only local language speakers and readers need apply. What happened to being eligible because you were Indian?
She finally found one form, just one form for me to fill out. I wonder. Would finding this one form been expedited if I was loose with a 100 rupee note? Filling the form was simple, so simple that you’d have been amazed. One photograph was needed and I carried two just in case. It made me realise that registering was so childlishly simple that EVERYONE could do it. If they made past the obstructiveness and the convoluted directions to their local BMP.
The next step was to come back to ensure my name was on the rolls about 20 days later. Which, when I did, I was instructed to come back the next week. When I did that, I could not confirm because my name was in Kannada as well as all my particulars. Which, you could bypass by checking your name on the electoral rolls online, by the link given on this boon of a website.
The day before the voting. I called and I called and I called.. and all I got was ‘Hindi gottilla madam’ or ‘English gottilla maydam’. And these were the helplines that were published by the papers and everyone else! Where was I supposed to go vote? Why wasn’t anyone telling me? After 8 calls later, which seriously depleted my phone balance, some guy said New Horizon Public School. I walked the kilometre to NHPS, carrying my passport. I must admit, my fault in not collecting my voter’s ID because I didn’t read the papers. The people at NHPS told me to go outside and get a slip confirming my name and stuff. These were tables full of people who had the names and the rolls in their hands and they were canvassing for specific parties! Isn’t this illegal?
Apparently I had to go to another school SSB International school. I went. They couldn’t find my name. One helpful guy sent me to Ambedkar college. I went there. Let me tell you this. You do NOT need a slip from any of the guys outside to vote, if your name is on the rolls. You only need to go inside, show them the ID, and make them DO the actual work of finding your name on the list. The people inside make you go to the people outside because of:
1. Vested interests and final party campaigning.
2. They’re too lazy to find your name on the list and want it done by someone else even though they are the ones supposed to do it.
Do NOT get bullied by these people. You ONLY NEED your ID to go in and vote if you’ve already registered. Do NOT get bullied if you do not know how to read Kannada. Demand an English translation of the rolls, they MUST have it. Carry all your particulars with you which you must keep with you when you look for your name on the electoral rolls, either when you go in person to the BMP to confirm or you confirm it online. Keep the serial no., name of your constituency, ac. no/booth no. and house no. handy and you’ll find your name. If you’ve registered. Which is simple enough.
And so, I voted. And I’m proud to have voted, despite their best efforts to discourage me to vote, every step of the way. And I will vote every time! And when my name will eventually get deleted because of an inefficient bureacracy , I will register again (which gives me justification to rant and rail at the govt because I voted) and vote again!
I wish that Radio and TV stations instead of playing ‘hep’ ads telling people to go out and vote, would tell us how to go about it – that would be SO MUCH more useful than wasting radio space on how ‘you must go and vote because cool people go and vote’ ⊕
Very factual reporting on how to get registered and vote in the system. Appreciate your persistence and commitment. Your write up is a great example for how people can get past an obstructive system if they are committed to vote.
It would be easier if everybody who decides to make Bangalore their home, made some attempt to learn Kannada, as the practice all over the country is to use the local language for official work.