For the first time we have got adult franchise, and unless the people exercise or are able to exercise their franchise in a proper intelligent manner, the working of the democracy would be difficult, and we stand to lose a great deal”
– Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel while addressing the pressmen at Trivandrum on May 13, 1950
The festival of colours, Holi, is around the corner and the atmosphere is filled with the holier festival of democracy, General Elections. Though these two festivals have different connotations and context, they share stark similarities and deliver interesting messages to us as a nation.
Holi is the festival of happiness and colours. ‘Don’t feel offended; it’s Holi’ is the normal cliché used across Bharat. To our friends and family members, we even compel to come out and participate in the festival. Innovative ways are employed to spring a surprise to our friends. Habitually, whenever anyone is celebrating Holi, they tend to come and colour you. It is good to not mind and enjoy the celebration, even the enmity or grudge, if any, should be forgotten or cleared, is the message that we cherish from time immemorial. The Holika Dahan, the burning of fire, also symbolises the eradication of the evils from environment and system. The Holi also signifies the change of season, end of the year and seasonal cycle in Bharat and a new beginning with new aspirations. The multiplicity of colours on our faces also eradicates the artificial differences and disseminates the sense of equality.
The General Elections of Bharat are not less colourful, whether campaigning, issues, slogans, flags or rallies, everything is very colourful. People also enjoy the election season with joyous enthusiasm. The adult franchise bestowed by the Constitution makers in one stroke established the principle of ‘One Person, One Vote’, ensuring equality of political participation for every adult irrespective of caste, creed, gender or religion. The democratic exercise also brings new hope, new aspirations for electorates of all shades, maybe for varied reasons. The elections also allow us to think about the cleansing of the system and come up with the new ideas for clean, accountable and participatory governance. For which, we are also expected to point out the loopholes in the system that should be eradicated by the forthcoming government. The political parties campaign fiercely and many times even cross the line while attacking the opponents. The slugfest of allegations and counter-allegations is enjoyed by voters to a certain extent. ‘Don’t feel offended; this is election’ is the underlying message of democracy.
So amidst stark similarity, there are common rules that we should follow in both the festivals. Do not hit below the belt, maintain dignity while playing colours and asking votes, so that the atmosphere is not vitiated. Though criticising each other is inevitable, do not turn it into enmity. Politicians are also expected to take the criticism with the right spirit of democracy. The rules of fairness, enshrined in the Model Code of Conduct, are for everyone and should be followed in letter and spirit. Election Commission of Bharat is known for undertaking this massive exercise with the best acumen; it is the duty of all the constituents to respect the institution and mechanisms set by the same. Electorates should discuss, deliberate and spread awareness about the most sacred duty of democracy. As Gandhiji said, ‘duty is nothing but corresponding right’, so if we expect a responsible government that will protect our rights, then we have to perform our duty of voting. Do not miss Holi and do not evade participation in the holier festival of elections. Convince not force, educate not irritate, enjoy not vitiate is the common thread of message for us both for the Holi and Elections. So Happy Holi and Happy Electioneering!