Election time – it is the best of times and the worst of times. Best of times because during this period, in a democracy, whatever may be its limitations and inherent weaknesses, every citizen feels highly empowered. At best he is a king, if not, at least a king maker. The voter is approached from various corners in various ways. He is praised, eulogised, extolled, honoured and adored. He is the centre of attention in the electoral universe. Big wigs beg for his favour with folded hands, sheepish smiles and utmost humility. He enjoys the rich accolades showered upon him and acknowledges with suppressed pleasure the exaggerated appreciation of his status as one who can make or unmake the future of a highly placed politician. He is on cloud nine or in the fourth heaven till the election is over.
Polling day is the best day because it is on this day only that every citizen is equal. Everyone has one vote. King or pauper, high or low, highly educated or thoroughly illiterate – every citizen has one vote only, and none more than one. The voter, especially one who comes from the poverty-ridden majority, cannot have a better day than this. It is the best of days when he has close to his heart his cards. He alone knows whom he is going to vote for. Pollsters and politicians may have their estimations and predictions. But he has his own plans which he is not going to reveal to anyone till the last moment when he actually casts his vote. He feels delighted beyond description in guarding such a valuable secret. It bestows upon him a certain importance which he enjoys utmost.
And it is the worst of times because a voter has to confront conflicting claims from every corner. He is highly confused and at times at his wit's end and greatly undecided in making his final choice. In these trying times politicians from opposite camps cross swords and appeal to the baser instincts and lower sentiments of men and women. Pride and prejudice also play their part.
Let us have a look on Gujarat which is passing through the throes of elections. Allegations of maut ka saudagar and supporter of terrorists are being hurled on each other. Pride in being Gujaratis is being invoked. Modi, the master of Moditva and hirdaya samarat of Hindutva is at his electioneering best or call it worst. He knows how to twist his opponents' words and turn the tables on them. In the ongoing Gujarat election you can watch the best and the worst of human nature, human sentiments and human weaknesses.
The question being asked is: will the Guajarati voters be swept away in the name of jeetega Gujarat and Gujarati pride. Most of the election watchers are sitting with their fingers crossed. If Modi wins, it would be a bad day for Gujaratis and all those who believe in human rights and human dignity and who stand for justice and broadmindedness, who are opposed to hatred and divisive politics.
Let us watch and see and pray that Gujaratis use their voting power judiciously. If they succeed in saying no to communalism, it may usher in the best of times for not only Gujarat but the whole country. And if they are carried away by Moditva rhetoric, it may be worst of times for India as a whole.