Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Democratic Peoples Republic of Narendra Modi

The glorious government of the world's greatest #1 chief minister of all time, Narendra Modi, has found a solution to the whole people-who-don't-vote problem:

Gujarat on Saturday became the first state in India to make voting compulsory in all local body elections, with chief minister Narendra Modi terming it a "move to strengthen democracy". Amid opposition from the Congress, the assembly passed the controversial Gujarat Local Authorities Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2009.

The bill makes voting mandatory in elections to all seven municipal corporations, 159 municipalities, 26 district panchayats, 223 taluka panchayats and in 13,713 village panchayats of the state. The bill, which also seeks to raise the reservation of seats for women in local self governance bodies from 33% to 50%, was passed by voice vote.

Yeah, baby. Forcing someone to do something is what democracy is all about. Just like when you don't want ice cream to melt, you take it out from the freezer and put it outside, under the sun.

This is how democracy works, you stupid non-believers. You vote for your leaders, and they decide what you drink, what you read, what you eat because obviously, in a democracy, you have no right to decide any of those things. If you really want any of those things, try a different state. Or country. Whatever. Although, make sure it's not North Korea, because they have compulsory voting there too, among other things.

According to the new law, all registered voters in Gujarat will be required to vote. Those absent will be asked to submit a valid reason . The bill empowers the election officer to declare people who do not vote as 'defaulter voters'.

Of course, the only people who will benefit from this law will be those election officers who will now be able to earn bribes so as to exempt those prickly 'defaulter voters' from getting prosecuted. And those who can't afford too, well, too bad. They should have thought of that before registering to vote.

Anyways, the ultimate irony was reserved for when the bill was being 'debated' in the Gujarat assembly:

Chief minister Narendra Modi and most of his ministers were absent when the Bill was being voted in the House. Cabinet ministers Vajubhai Vala, close Modi ally Dilip Sanghani and Jay Narayan Vyas. Ministers of state Jaswantsinh Bhabhor, Vasan Ahir and Purshottam Solanki were also missing from the Assembly. Nearly 40 per cent of MLAs in a House of 181 were absent during voting.

You know what? Instead of trying to mandate people to vote, maybe they should make it compulsory for politicians to not be two-faced, hypocritical, no good neanderthals.

Somebody should put that on the ballot

Hell, I'd vote for it.


Controversial local bodies' bill passed in Gujarat assembly [DNA]
Modi absent when compulsory voting bill tabled [
A guide to voting in North Korea [
Japan Probe]


Stray said...

This is the only logical way to get people to participate in a democracy. Whilst voting (for local body elections) has been made mandatory for registered voters within the state, they are not being "forced" to do so as no punitive/ negative action has been prescribed for anyone who does not vote; they will merely be asked why they abstained.

This is a possible manner in which to constructively take forward our earlier discussion on having 'interested' folks co-habit within a democracy.

neo said...

1. Mandate 100% voter turnout
2. Only 70% voters actually show up.
3. ???
4. It turns out the 30% voters who were absent "voted" anyway.
5. Modi wins by a landslide.

Anonymous said...

neo already said the one sane thing i had to say.

and the other thing i wanted to say is oversaid: fucking brilliant post. hell i'd vote for you, notwithstanding what election it is :D

Ketan said...

Overrated Outcast,

I'm neither in favor nor in opposition of this decision 'cuz at least as of now, no punitive measure nor disincentive has been announced for not voting or for not producing a valid reason for not voting.

I don't think voter turnout has any relation to the quality of governance that eventually ensues.


What do you think the Election Commission would be doing while the things would be proceeding according to your speculation/prediction?


Chirag K. Shah said...

Well 'Jagoo re' Campaign was made to make people 'awake'. The biggest strength of India is it's population. When they refuse to turn up because of bla bla that strength is ultimately weaken.

When we did not had negative vote we had people like Koda being elected who siphoned Rs. 4K of tax payers...Do you want that to happen?

If not welcome the decision and instead of defaulting be a part of electoral excercise. And yeah i will vote for NaMo and i am proud of it!

Over Rated said...

@Stray, @Ketan: There are actually contemplating punishments for 'not voting'.

BJP MLAs participating in the debate suggested, those who do not vote should be penalised with denials of driving license or passport, or concessional bank loan, or government jobs.

@Stray: Firstly, let the record show that you are in agreement with a certain Mr Modi. Secondly, forcing something down people's throat is not how things are supposed to work in a democracy. If people really want "compulsory" voting, then let there be a referendum. You can't go imposing things willy-nilly. This is not the Che Guevara fan club!

@Neo: I'm not saying the elections are going to be fixed but Modi did hire Robert Mugabe and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as "election consultants".

@Aryan: Thanks, buddy!! I think the second point you brought up is something we can never tire of hearing. :D !

@Chirag: It's great that you're proud of voting for NaMo (Seriously, that's the nickname?). However, to accomplish such a feat, you would need to be in India, which, it seems from your profile, is not the case. What is it with NRIs and NaMo?

Chirag K. Shah said...

@ Over Rated:

Your claims regarding Robert Mugabe and some Iranian is being consultants is hilarious having no merit.

Regarding my status as being an NRI, i am an Indian citizen doing my Post Doctoral studies in US. I do not mind coming for VMC elections as have Christmas Vacation during that part of the year.

Over Rated said...

@Chirag: You know, when I wrote that Mugabe/Ahmadinajad line, I thought I should put a disclaimer next to it specifying that it is a joke, an exaggeration. But I didn't cause I thought that it would be too pedantic. Well, blimey, I was wrong.

Also, your accusations of me being "hilarious" have no merit whatsoever.

Lastly, I do applaud your commitment towards voting. I would rather spend my Christmas vacation
getting pissed drunk and gambling away my family's hard-earned money in Vegas.

This is why, you, sir, are truly a pillar of Indian democracy.

Chirag K. Shah said...

@ Overrated

I am completely overwhelmed by your recognition.

Well it comes as a no surprise, why 'Overrated' people would mind for such a bill being proposed as it would flop their plan for Christmas..(Correct me if i am wrong)

Have fun with your plans while i would be busy designing a high efficient Breath analyzer.

I agree that i misread the paronomasia you intended as it was totally uncalled for and unexpected. In my opinion it is like comparing Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and G Madhavan Nair with 'Underrated'.(No pun intended)

Ketan said...

Overrated Outcast,

There are a lot of things getting to us through the mass media. To believe everything with complete conviction or eye with at least some degree of skepticism is entirely upon us.

Approval of bank loans and issuance of passsorts at least do not fall under the jurisdiction of the state government. If a media house publishes or dissipates such ideas, I would instantly become very skeptical of the truth value of their 'news'. I mean, imagine a village sarpanch trying to convince the passport office under the control of the Union government, to not issue passport to a certain person 'cuz he/she did not vote in a local election - does it not sound funny?

As to Narendra Modi - I find him one of the better chief ministers that India has had. Does this fact of finding him better than the rest, in anyway alter the value of arguments put forth?

But my approval/disapproval of his policies will always be based on the merit of the policies concerned. My view of the decisions will not be affected by the fact that one taking them is Modi. In fact, to assume that I approve of (whenever I do, that is) certain decisions because they would be taken by him, would be wrong. Rather, I prefer him because of the merit of his policies that have already been planned and quality of governance shown in the past.

I will definitely critique the decision and agree with you, the moment some kind of punishment is actually introduced in the proposed bill.

So yes, statistically it has so turned out that I have been in agreement with his policies and working style much more than any other chief minister's I have known through friends, relatives, etc., basically, the so called common man; incidentally, I have had the opportunity to speak to people hailing from many states, and that's how my conclusions were drawn after comparison.

If by any chance, you would still feel my preference for Modi is irrational/impassioned and feel that it could be best accounted for by some kind of generalization (for instance, being an NRI, which I am not), there is no better clarification I would be able to give.


Over Rated said...

@Chirag: Dude, I don't even understand half the words you use. What even is a "G Madhavan Nair"?

And who I am to correct you, good sire? I am just a lowly "overrated" life form who has no right to an opinion because most of my jokes are uncalled for. I have understood the folly of my ways and me and other "overrated" people will go to a lonely island in some ocean somewhere where we will only drink and attempt to fornicate with each other. We shall call this island SexCriminalBoat.

Over Rated said...

@Ketan: I have no personal issues with either Narendra Modi nor the millions of his fans. It is not my place to judge if anyone's choices are rational or irrational. I am not in the business of giving or seeking explanations. I do not think people who disagree with me are stupid, nor do I tend to "otherise" them.

I find the whole concept of 'mandatory voting' in a democracy to be funny. And trying to spin it as 'democratic reform' is blatant hypocrisy, in my book.

You make an assumption when you say that I believe everything that the 'mass media' puts out. I derive a lot of my posts from the blatant stupidity or hypocrisy of the mass media. However, I just don't disavow everything they say, just because they are saying it.

I am not an either/or type of person. I think all of us are stupid, irrational and hypocritical to some extent.

Now look what you've done. Made me go all sanctimonious. The one thing I hate. This must be why people think I'm easy. Damn!

Anonymous said...

What is thec problem about the concept of compulsory voting? After all some countries have such laws. Australia for one.

sachin kundu said...

From a principled stand, obviously compulsory anything is against basic human freedom and is definitely not a feature of a free society. Having said that, India is a strange place and strange places need strange solutions, radical solutions sometimes. If we manage to have a suitably efficient election overseeing body(read Election commission) then compulsory voting might turn out to be good deal after all. While as a citizen we expect the state to supply basic services, the state expects us to vote, which many of us don't.

More important case of discussion should be, how best to leave voting as a true freedom and still work out the problems of people not exercising this important step for an efficient democracy. The solution is to have the right candidates and enough educated population. This is not happening anytime soon though.

While I am on it, in my view it makes sense that the bill had a feature of not voting for anyone which sounds good, hehe I want to stike everyone out for sure. Excpet overrated you ofcourse, If you decided to run anytime.

Rakesh said...

OO, the words compulsory and democracy may not go very well together but I guess, this is more of a political stunt rather than a pathbreaking move to strenghten democracy.

What is to be seen is how are the practicalities worked out?

Like the EC said, they will watch it with interest. I like that stand ;-)

And the penalties for not voting without sufficient reason might include - denial of ration cards, poverty cards etc. If this is the case, then the most apathetic people will still stay away from the voting process. Who wants a ration card these days anyways!

But what I love the most about this is that the voting form will also have an option of voting NOBODY and if people actually decide to take on this challenge, and the NOBODY votes are more than the highest candidate, all candidates are disqualified and barred from voting again.

Man, this is giving me goosebumps, I gotta make a movie about this !

And OO, Aryan's second point is indeed undeniable :D But some people have started taking you seriously :P

Over Rated said...

@Anon: Yeah, sure, we need to be more like Australia. Great argument. I am convinced already.

@Sachin: Heh. The election commission maybe efficient, but sadly the people it uses to oversee those elections, those apathetic nincompoops, the great Indian babus.

Compulsory voting is not something I support. And I hope that the 'not voting for anyone' option is not a rehash of section 49.

Also, I won't make a good politician. I have a disdain for people, I drink, make off colour jokes, keep changing my opinions, I drink, there are so many skeletons in my cupboard that I needed two for safekeeping and my medicine cabinet is full of experimental tablets from Mexico. :P . . .

@Rakesh: Sorry to burst your bubble, but I think 'Watching with interest' = Yeah, we're really not going to do that.

I haven't even ever seen a ration card, ever!!

I will stand in line to see your movie! I even have a name for it 'The Expat strikes back'.

And yeah, taking me seriously leads to both diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome. :P . . .