It was college. We just entered our 3rd year and had the first opportunity to have some power. The senate elections were due and our class got the chance to elect the Arts secretary from amongst ourselves. We were fairly a well-knit unit, just minding our own business and far removed from any eccentricities that the freedom of college life offers. We thought the election would be a no-brainer. Our monitor was the smartest guy around, well-liked and competent as well. So the election would be unanimous or so we thought. To cut to the chase another candidate surfaced who was the complete opposite and had no merit whatsoever and we decided to select the candidate by voting. To our surprise the other candidate won.
Now thinking back that was my first real experience of the act of democracy. Later we learnt that the winning candidate had some campaigning done the previous night, calling classmates and eliciting their support. Democracy is not to be taken for granted, I learnt that day. A lesson that has been repeatedly impressed upon our conscience this past year.
Brexit and US Presidential elections were the startling reminders that it is not a given that the majority’s choice might always be the prudent one. Take the case of India. People put their faith in one man and got his party into power with an overwhelming majority. Their trust was found to be misplaced by disappointing acts one after the other. The most disappointing thing was how he (the honourable Prime Minister of India) takes people for granted. The arrogance with which he carries out himself, the smirk that he can get away with anything. He has no qualms in promising things and then forgetting all about it. He gives media the sound bite they crave. When the whole nation stood in queue which was his making all he did was cry on cue. Be it invoking the analogy of soldiers and patriotism or letting loose the communal elements in his party especially when it is election time, he is adapt at playing people. Vanity is his biggest folly, replacing Gandhi’s iconic charkha spinning photo with his own phony version though was a bit too far. But the tragedy is that there is no real opposition to hold him to task. Attempts to rewriting history and undermining the great leaders of our nation are something no one should get away with.
The caveat or merit, whatever you want to call it with democracy is that it is not final. If people choose you now they can very well reject you as well. The only problem is the time elapsed between the two. All we can do meanwhile is to hope that our decision in the first place wouldn’t comprise all the values and beliefs we hold so dearly and also raise our voice once in a while.