It’s been a rough couple of weeks. Election time always is. From the deserts of Rajasthan, to the Chambal Valley, from the forested Mizo hills to the Red Corridor, my friends and I have been at it, recording your mandate. Every year, in state after state, poll after poll, we toil. It’s not like the electorate doesn’t push my buttons once in a while, but I know it’s all for the greater good. As I emerged after doing my duty in a small school about a 100 km from Hyderabad, my recent experience had taught me enough not to expect bouquets. But why the brickbats?
Listen, I am not one to crib. The world over, the Indian Election Commission has been lauded for pulling off the largest exercise of universal adult franchise the world has ever seen, freely and fairly. Violence has been decreasing, transparency increasing. But opposition politicians and a section of civil society keep casting aspersions on my integrity. So much has been done to assure people of my honesty: I have been taken apart and put back together; there is now a paper trail to keep me honest; my keepers often offer to let people “hack” into me. I am but a messenger, a conduit to facilitate the people’s voice. What my detractors really want to do is blame the voter. Unfortunately, not even a state-of-the-art ballot box allows for electing a new people.
Today, though, is a good day. After being pressed and prodded, I am finally resting before 2019. And this time, my critics have been oddly silent. Oh, there has been the odd murmur of discontent at my message, but all in all, it appears that the messenger is not being questioned. I am, of course, but a machine. Thank god for that. Else, being a prop in the games of politicians would have made me intolerably cynical.