Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Vote Your Caste

No, gentle reader, that was no typo. I mean ‘Vote Your caste’ when you cast your vote.

April 16 is drawing near; we Indians are preparing to exercise our franchise some time between the middle of April and May. We are expected to choose our destiny by electing those who will make ours, but our leaders are exhorting us, covertly and overtly, through their actions and words, to vote our caste.

Look at what the leaders and candidates, no matter the colour of the flag they salute, have been doing: they have been calling on our sadhus and ulemas, raagis and behenjis, chaplains and pundits, preachers and mahants, bishops and maulvis, and sanyasis and dervishes. The ‘godmen’ – that oxymoron touted as India’s ultimate enrichment of the English language – must be rubbing their hands in glee that they, generally shunned, are in great demand.

Winning or losing is, understandably, a life-and-death issue for the candidates. This critical juncture in their life may bring to the surface the old fears that haunted the primaeval man. The believers among them can be pardoned if they reach out for the comforts of superstition, supernatural and ritual.

But the members of the revolutionary parties? The general election is not an ordinary event; so much depends on its outcome and one cannot take chances. They do not want to leave any stone unturned. Several Communists, whether in West Bengal, Tripura or Kerala, look as much to pujas as to the politburo to bless them with power.

And not just that. They choose the candidate after looking at the religious composition of voters in the constituency. Look at the rivals of put up by the major parties or fronts. Surely, it is no coincidence that the candidates belong to the same religion or caste? And this religion and caste is what the majority of voters in the constituency belong to.

They also call on the religious leaders ‘seeking their support’ which translates into a diktat to their membership to vote a candidate they suggest.

The moral of the story? The parties expect you to vote your caste.

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