Feeling of not being able to cast your vote

By: Preeti Panwar
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The fifth phase of 16th Lok Sabha elections got over on Thursday with large voter turnout in all the constituencies. However, the IT hub, Bangalore did not record an impressive voter turnout.

The reason behind low polling percentage can be seen as a large number of migrants and secondly, a "long weekend" of four days, that gave busy Bangaloreans a 'golden opportunity' to pack their bags for an outing with their families or friends.

Since I belong to Delhi and have the voter ID of the national capital, I could not cast my vote on April 10, as being a journalist, I could not afford to take leaves during a busy schedule due to elections coverage for travel from Delhi to Bangalore for casting my vote.

So, I thought, that I could be a part of the historic polls in the IT city, Bangalore, that is my home, since last year.

On April 17, when Karnataka went to polls, I decided to exercise my right to vote and be a part of change in our democracy.

As a migrant, I took my identity proofs like PAN Card, Aadhar card with two passport size photographs, to show as a proof of my Indian citizenship. And there had been a news doing the rounds that if you don't have your voter ID, just go at your nearby polling station with above mentioned documents and fill a "Form 7", that will be available at the polling booth venues.

But, unfortunately, all the 'original' id proofs failed to convince polling officials as they told me that it is essential to register your names in the electoral rolls, only then you will be eligible to cast your vote.

The stone-faced polling officials had just marred the eagerness in me to exercise my voting right. I felt like an "outsider" in my own country and realised that voting right also comes with certain "terms and conditions".

This incident not only happened with me, but with many other migrants, who have settled in Bangalore due to their professional commitments.

Ironically, in my case, being a journalist, I, like my colleagues, have been encouraging others to "step out and vote" as every vote counts and has the power to decide the final results.

Similarly, Divesh Pathak, a Bangalore-based techie and a native of Bihar could not cast his vote despite all the required documents as his name and his wife, Sonika's name was not in the voters list.

30-year-old Amit Rajput, a Senior Software Engineer, from Delhi was also left disappointed as he also could not exercise his voting right.

The idea behind sharing my thoughts and experience is to bring a change in the "electoral reforms" like any Indian citizen above 18 years of age should have the right to vote anywhere in the country, in any constituency, irrespective of the fact that their name is included in the voters list or not.

Albeit, they must display any valid id proof at the polling station at the time of voting.

The whole day, I saw many voters from young to old age groups, happily boasting about exercising their basic right and choosing the leader of their choice.

Many young voters clicked their "selfies" while displaying their inked fingers on social networking websites, that also reminded me again and again that I could not participate in one of the historic and exciting general elections.

Now, the lost opportunity will only come after five years. Just hoping, that, I don't miss out my right to vote in the next elections.

Till then, waiting for May 16, 2014, when the political scenario of our nation will change for next five years. The new session of the Indian political future will commence.

In the back of my mind, I can console myself by thinking that I just pressed the "None of The Above" (NOTA) option in the Lok Sabha elections 2014!

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