In order to make democracy work, one has to make every vote count

With the election season entering its last phase, political parties across the spectrum are leaving no stone unturned to reach out to voters. In a bid to bolster their candidates’ chances, party bigwigs are also descending on the ground to mobilise voters in their favour.

Last Saturday, I found myself at one such big-ticket election rally when Congress president Rahul Gandhi decided to meet the people of Gurugram, and canvass for candidate Capt (retd) Ajay Singh Yadav. The rally was taking place on the Haryana Shahari Vikas Pradhikaran ground in Sector 5.

The venue saw a huge turnout—people from the city as well as other districts. As I entered the venue and looked around to assess the arrangements, I spotted a familiar face among the stream of people that was entering the venue. Dressed in a starched white dhoti and kurta was someone I had met last month, during one of the several election reporting assignments—Ayub Popatdad, a resident of Roz-ka-Meo village in Mewat. Spotting Popatdad in the crowd was easy due to the oversized quintessential red turban that adorned his head.

I would have probably missed him had it not been for the turban. The turban has a story of its own, one that goes back to our first interaction.

I first met Popatdad during an informal chaupal session. An enthusiastic participant, he had voiced the concerns of his village. Wanting to use his comments in my report, I requested him for a photograph. He politely obliged but only after making me wait for 15-20 minutes—he went back to his house and changed into a starched white kurta, dhoti and a magnificent red turban. The same turban that I saw him wear at Rahul Gandhi’s rally.

Popatdad came all the way from Mewat to listen to Gandhi. An active voter, he said it was crucial for him to know what the leader had in store for Mewat. “I need to know if the party has any proposal for Mewat. Mewat needs jobs, education, water and safety,” he told me.

He said that there were many others in the rally who had travelled all the way from Mewat and were hoping to make an informed choice in the elections.

“Every vote is important. In order to make one’s vote count, one has to actively participate in democracy. In all these years, I have never missed a single rally of the party,” he told me.

People like Popatdad truly understand the value of a single vote. Over the past two months, I have interacted with several others like him who have pinned their hopes on May 12. For most of these people, voting is the only chance they have of making their voices heard. It is their one chance of making a difference to their lives, and an inherent right that they will exercise today.

(Sadia Akhtar is a reporter with the Gurugram bureau who covers politics, education, and heritage.)

First Published:
May 12, 2019 01:26 IST

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