The Association of Aggrieved but Honourable Activists! (Aaha!), a never-say-die citizens’ group in Bengaluru, on Saturday repudiated in no uncertain terms what it called the media’s “malicious and mischievous” campaign to defame India’s IT capital.
Aaha! is stark raving mad with media reports that said Bengalureans lived up to their historic infamy of not turning up to vote in good numbers on the polling day on Thursday. This was based on Election Commission data that said that average voting in the three constituencies of Bengaluru North, Central and South was 54.13 percent against the 55.9 percent of 2014. This pathetic turnout was widely attributed to laziness and a devil-may-care-but-I-don’t attitude towards democracy.
Aaha! said it had kept the situation under close watch from the morning of polling day and found that, though a humongous number of Bengalureans intended to vote, they couldn’t because of certain inexorable predicaments. “To the number of those who actually voted, add the number of those who wanted to but couldn’t, and the actual turnout would have been 97.64 percent, highest anywhere in the world,” the civic group concluded.
The organisation promised to release a report on this statistical paradox at an “appropriate” time, but my source—I call him Deep Throat—gave me breaking-news access to it.
Here are some excerpts:
We confess we should have sensed the first clue very early on the morning of polling day—but failed to—in the imageries from Cartosat-2F satellite that showed Bengaluru roads deserted as if there was a curfew. We presumed this was because Bengalureans, renowned the world over for their devotion to constitutional responsibilities, had already flocked to polling booths. Then we found highways leading out of the city crawling with bumper-to-bumper traffic. This made the 2014 Ukrainian exodus to Russia look like a movie queue. But we foolishly attributed this to a technical snafu of the satellite.
However, when we went to polling stations, we were frozen with shock. They were as empty as the treasuries of populist governments. In some polling booths, officials were playing gin-rummy. Some were playing with buguris (spinning tops). A lady officer was knitting a sweater for a future child. But nobody was watching Narendra Modi’s biopic as alleged later by fake-news digital goons of WhatsApp.
We interviewed a number of voters who didn’t deign to participate in the democratic process.
“You must be out of your mind to think I would cross nine large potholes and six medium-sized ones just to reach the polling station,” fumed a dentist. “What’s filling up a pothole for politicians, when they can fill up their pockets,” a teacher said and laughed. “Imagine slipping and falling into a pothole—it’s horrific,” remarked an IT professional, who preferred to watch Kanchana-3 on 18 April.
We found no evidence to confirm whether the low voting would help Congress or BJP. Devendra Gowda, an electronics engineer, said, “Narendra Modi is awesome. I wanted to press the button for him, but I had promised to go to Hogenakkal Falls with friends. But there are plenty others—aren’t there?—to vote for Modi anyway.” Nalini, a housewife, said: “Rahul Gandhi is cute, isn't he?... best dimples! But I wanted to try a new Paneer Kolhapuri recipe at home.”
Migrants sang different tunes. We spoke to Abraham Koshy from Kerala, who runs a departmental store. Registered as a voter in Bengaluru, he launched a vicious Facebook campaign last year against the city’s air pollution. He was apparently too busy watching TV to vote. When we asked him whether actor and Independent candidate Prakash Raj deserved support since Congress and BJP had failed the IT capital, Koshy took his eyes off the TV, yawned and said, “Rahul Gandhi has every right to contest from Wayanad”.
Footloose and fancy-free
Several voters we reached on phone were in fact driving up to holiday resorts in Mysuru, Chikkamagaluru and Mangaluru.
Bingo and eureka!
That explained the packed highways on the satellite maps! Said one of them: “Hello ... Can’t hear ... Who’s it? ... Aaha!, is it? ... Oho ... Voting? ... For whom? ... Yeah ... Taking a break ... What’s one vote less? ... Haha ... Aaha.” Said another: “Who asked the Election Commission to have polling to add to the weekend?”
No selfies, no votes
An astounding number of voters made it to the polling stations but walked out in anger when they were not permitted to take selfies. “What yaar, what’s the fun in doing something so important in life without clicking a selfie? So I walked out,” revealed a chartered accountant. Argued a furious housewife: “Look, when my kid grows up to voting age and when I tell her I voted, why would she believe me without a selfie? This is preposterous.”
Online voting, anybody?
Radhika Sharma, a senior manager at an IT company, who didn’t vote, screamed at us. She said she was “flabbergasted, shocked and dumbfounded” that voters can’t vote on Whatsapp or Twitter “in this day and age”.
Deep Throat revealed that the Aaha! report concluded with these words, “We too were flabbergasted, shocked and dumbfounded. So we went home.”
The author tweets @sprasadindia
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Updated Date: Apr 20, 2019 18:11:36 IST