Election is a common feature in the continued governance of any state and any country. This is a moot point specially in democratic countries – where people elect their own government. For in a democracy, the government is supposed to be “of the people, for the people and by the people”. So much so good. Everywhere we can guess that elections could be more or less on similar patterns. The country is divided into smaller units of constituencies and each constituency has scores or hundreds of booths.
An election booth is the place which is specified and notified by the government for people to come and cast their votes. The booth is manned by officers of the working government to see that all goes well. The workers of each political parties involved in the elections are also stationed at the both. There duty is to see the there is no cheating taking place at the elections both.
An election booth in India appears to be a site of mixed feelings and mixed occurrences. It is more of a miniature battlefield all set with guntoting police and army on the prowl. At the booth, the officers stationed appear to be like mice in a lion’s den. No one knows when there may be a poaching crowd come to capture the booth, when there will be rigging at the booth and when there may be a firing spree to cap it all.
The serpentine queues at booths go to indicate quite a lot about the people. All types of people, old and young, men and women, interested and disinterested, pour in at the booth. Some seem to have come with first and one time curiosity to see what it is like at the booth, some coming with a vengeance to rout the reigning government, while a lot others coming just because others are coming.
In India the election booths provide a colourful scenario, in keeping with the variety that exists in the country itself.
At the polling booth, behind the closed door where the boxes are kept is a scene of utter disgust and shabby lethargic performance. It appears that on the one hand officers inside are too lethargic to be true to their task, while on the other hand one can smell the air of fear within the four walls of the room. Officers on duty appear to be on tenterhooks, for they do not know when there will be an emergence of non sence. They do not know when a person who comes in to cast his/her vote may try to exploit the situation and create hullabaloo.
Elections are conducted in every country and electorate and election booths also must be existing everywhere, but the scene at an election booth in India is unmatched. Outside, the booth there appears to be an area as if earmarked to become a battle arena, and inside the booth, it is both the calm of eternity and silence of a graveyard.
When the booth gives this appearance, there could be little to expect from the results. The results coming out of so much gloom and danger cannot be indicative of anything other than gloom or danger.