Sunday, June 23, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

Beauty of democracy

Flawless polls are a major ingredient of democracy

Update : 19 May 2019, 10:21 PM

A picture showing a son carrying his 80-year-old mother to a polling station to cast her vote at a polling station in Kolkata, West Bengal, has widely circulated in social and mainstream media.

In the last of the marathon 7-phase elections in India on Sunday, the old lady came to a polling station in Dum Dum constituency, riding on her son.

No other details, including the names and addresses of either the mother or son, were available as of filing this report at 6:00pm. And, quite frankly, it is not necessary at all.

The picture shows nothing but a glorious example of a citizen's desire to exercise her right to franchise. It also shows that age or any other barriers cannot obstruct citizens, who are the owners of a country, from electing people to serve them. Although, it’s a different matter, as to whether the people chosen to serve the citizenry, follow the true meaning of democracy: government for the people, of the people, and by the people.

The gracious lady in the picture is not the only senior citizen, who takes quite a bit of trouble to vote. Visiting some centres in Kolkata North and Kolkata South, the Dhaka Tribune found many elderly people at polling stations with various physical challenges, owing to their age. And, this correspondent spoke to a few of them to learn why they took so much trouble to vote, and the answers were identical. And, that was: “We just want to exercise our right by having a say in the formation of the government.”

“I am just happy to have been able to cast my vote in the elections. Who knows, maybe I have voted for the last time in my life,” said Kalyani Devi, 79.

“Which party did you vote for?” asked this correspondent. She replied to the question with a big smile.

“Look, we know there are many problems in our system of governance. And, the government does not, most of the time, do what it is supposed to do. Despite that, democratic practices are important because they hold governments accountable,” 81-year-old Paresh Dhali, a retired schoolteacher said, after casting his vote.

“In a country like ours, only during election campaigns and on voting days, we the citizens, feel like we have some power. At other times, we are not given that much importance. But things will hopefully improve day by day,” said Abdur Rahman, 78, who runs a shop near New Market  in Kolkata.

No doubt, a democracy has many aspects apart from holding free and fair elections. But, unquestionably, flawless polls are a major ingredient of democracy, and once this can be ensured, other aspects can be improved to give democracy a perfect shape to genuinely serve the people.

It is said by many scholars that democracy is not perfect, but the world is yet to discover any system of governance which is better than democracy. They are so right.

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