Today I am a little tongue-tied. It was a normal sunny day. I did everything I do on a usual day trying not to think about the outcome of the Indian elections. I thought I could ignore it, I thought I could just not look at the news and pretend like nothing happened. I told my sister in the morning that I am taking a hiatus from politics, forgetting for a moment that I am currently in a field born out of politics, out of democracy.
I took to Instagram, tried to console myself by putting up a story that would only reach a maximum of 70 people out of my 179 “followers”. But, no, I still felt like somebody had punched me in the gut. Not that I had any hopes regarding the elections. My little cousin brother a month or so back, asked me who I had voted for and I hadn’t given him a reply as he played the guessing game, “BJP?…No?….Congress?…No?!…Then who?!….The Communist Party?….Then who?” He proceeded to laugh at me even though I hadn’t given him a reply.
Although I was impressed by his awareness, it was eye-opening how that order of political parties he named reflected how the entire country was thinking. That’s how penetrative politics can be. Whatever my cousin’s frame of reference, he was spot on. I still won’t reveal who I voted for, and now it doesn’t even matter. But I am concerned about who we got.
Being a citizen I realised how insignificant my vote was, or significant in telling me how nobody thought the way I thought. Obviously to vote for a better candidate there needs to be one in the first place which there wasn’t. But what this election tells me is that we’re on a slippery slope and all the democracy we paraded since time immemorial has come to this.
As I sat having my lunch at university, and a group of people were screening the news of the Indian election, I only felt small and helpless. If this is how I feel on the day the outcome is announced I can’t imagine how I will feel in the next five years. Maybe it’s time to rejoice for those who won, my sportsman spirit tells me I should hope we could make this work. But in reality, I suddenly feel like I have been left behind. As a voter I feel like I let down my nation. A nation whose strength was its diversity and its plurality, now only represents one colour on the Indian flag, like laundry gone wrong.
Some might tell me to stop sulking, or to look at the leader and not the party, or that it’s what it is. That’s true there is no point spending time being disappointed. But, this is my nationalism speaking for those who think I am dissenting, who think I am a clueless “sickular” or “libtard”. I thought we were supposed to choose the right not the ‘right’ government. I guess I didn’t get the memo.
I am happy that maybe this term will teach us as citizens something important. I hope it teaches us that if we count on the options we have, we’ll never get the options we want. It should teach us that an election in a democracy with multiple parties means we have the opportunity to choose what we truly deserve.
Honestly, I am proud that at least this nation thinks alike, just look at this sweeping victory, this is called ‘unity’. But why not use this towards a different and better end? I saw potential in some candidates who just began, who took a stand and who gave me a ray of hope, but I realised as the world’s largest democracy and one of the world’s largest populations, this is a game of numbers not of goals. If agendas were up for elections perhaps the outcome would have been different.
I’ll be ok, because I am a Hindu by birth not that I subscribe to the religion but it’s what will turn up in the database on the government’s watch. I’ll be ok because I belong to the middle-class. I’ll be ok because I have an education. But, I can’t guarantee I’ll be ok as a woman. That for me just me was a major concern. When I voted I didn’t think about one person, I thought about others who would not be ok, because that’s what democracy is about, or so academia tells me.
Alas, everyone else looked at one individual and paved the path for a single person, because it’s about the candidate not the party or the ideology, not for the people wouldn’t be ok in this situation, who for five years have existed in turmoil waiting for change.
For now, change exists in pockets, and for those of us who will be ok, we’ll set filters, search for our pockets and take cover there and watch those who were never ok fight this battle alone again for the next five years hoping that next time will be different, without any guarantee of tomorrow. Here’s to the next five years, to survival, to democracy.