My Vote My Right: Look Beyond Caste and Religion, Vote For Better Policies

The women gather at the Jagalikatte and a few of them confess how their family members are trying to influence them and how fights have been breaking out. Vijaya from the Election Commission advises that they should simply not fight, the husband and elders in a family usually want everyone to vote for the person they are voting for. “So, just say, Yes, and then go and vote for the person you wish to vote for!” Vijaya also mentions to strongly advice their family members against taking any kind of bribe for voting and not go behind people who bribe.

Dr. Priyanca Mathur says, voting is a very important legal right and when you are casting your vote you should avoid influences, particularly of being influenced by family members and communities. It is an informed and individual decision so we should be aware that we should not be influenced by community and family members. We should also check the promises the parties have made and what are they promising us in their manifestos. Also avoid influences on the basis of caste, religion and communities. Political parties since 1947 have been moving voters on the basis of religion; very often it was said that the Triple Talaq Bill was pushed by the current government simply to appeal to the minority group and communities. It is for us to discern what the truth is.

Voting behaviour has traditionally been influenced by political science theories based on religion, community, caste, money, language, policy, and ideology. Political parties make use of these variables for the sake of winning the battle of the ballot box. Despite committing to secularism, we often find politicians appealing to the religious and communal sentiments of the people. Another main factor that can influence voters is the charisma of a leader – the exceptional quality that can make a person the main attraction. People start to worship the leader and their perceived leadership.

Caste continues to be another important determinant of voting behaviour in India. Caste cuts a deep route into the Indian society and it constitutes an important basis of social relations at all levels, despite the adoption of several provisions which prohibit action and discrimination on its basis. In fact, caste is said to be the main language of voters living in rural India. Despite the adoption of democratic values which conceive of a society free from casteism.

The establishment of a secular state gave the right of freedom of religion to everyone, treating every religion as equal and the non-recognition of any religion as a state religion. This has, unfortunately, not actually been successful in preventing the role of religion as a determinant of political behaviour in the country. We see that the religionisation of socio-political issues is always resorted to by political parties and other groups. As we know, many voters vote as per their religion.

India is a multi-lingual state, and linguism serves as a factor in voting behaviour as well. People form an emotional attachment to the language native to them and this linguistic interest always influences their voting behaviour.

Money also plays a vital role in determining voting behaviour. Parties promise money for voting and this is nothing but the purchase of votes, which is, of course, wrong. The performance of the party is what we should be judging the party candidates on. Mass illiteracy compounds this problem and political parties and communal groups exploit the prevailing sentiments of people for influence.

So, don’t rely on factionalism or the public esteem of the candidates. Instead, check out the election campaign of all parties and make your own judgement and caste your vote.

Listen in for more…

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