In December last year, There was heated debate on whether to set the FDI limit in Multi-Brand retail to 51% or not. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Trinamool Congress (TMC), were primarily opposing this bill. The ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) wanted this bill to be passed to save its face from continuous onslaught on the issue of being impotent in decision making (p.s: which it continues still now). While hearing the live telecast online in my office, I came across an interesting learning regarding, the way voting works in India. The prime take away from that incident was:

If you want your voice gets counted then vote. Absolving from your responsibility to vote would mean only 1 thing, that you cannot be counted upon.

The Story


Trinamool Congress, the key ally in UPA 2 coalition, withdrew its support from ruling govt, over its policy to support 51% FDI in Multi-Brand retail (p.s: TMC was opposing many other policies of govt too).  Since FDI in Retail was very important decision, It required approval in both the houses of parliament. With TMC Gone the the bill was in Limbo. In the mean time, the state of Uttar Pradesh(UP) was in celebratory mood, which saw the rise of Samajwadi Party from the ashes under the leadership of Akhilesh Yadav (Son of SP chief  Mulayam Singh Yadav), beating Chief Minister Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), in state election.
Since the election concluded recently in the state of UP, both the parties SP and BSP were exhausted under the election works. The move of TMC to withdraw support frightened both parties, as this move would put the ruling UPA in minority(the govt needs to have more 50% of supporting members), pushing for elections in the country. To avert elections, both parties SP & BSP made an unlikely decision to support the ruling UPA. In the mean time BJP moved the vote to withdraw the FDI in Multi-brand Retail as many in ruling party were opposed to it including SP and BSP.

Events at the Temple of Democracy

The discussion on bill began in December 1st week (I don’t know exact date). Many people from different parties gave wonderful speeches how the FDI will help/trouble farmers, middlemen, consumers, other retailer etc.. The discussions continued for a long time. If one had listened to discussion happened there, he would have certainly come to known that Parliamentarians have brains – Contradictory to beliefs one has harbored for a long time.
On the D-Day of voting, JDS Supremo H D Deve Gowda one of supporters of Bill withdrew his support but was there for voting (unlike educated masses). Later in same day, SP and BSP as expected gave speeches on ill effects of FDI in Retail (which they were principally opposed to from the beginning) and Staged a Walkout(more like educated masses do). The walkout was key turn to events, with SP and BSP walking out – 43 seats / members of 543 members became absent from Lok Sabha. Also Lok Sabha has advanced voting mechanisms, such that If a person is not voting from his allotted seat then his vote will be rendered invalid.  If all the members were present, then the ruling govt would have required 272 votes to win. With TMC gone the ruling was left with only 253 seats. SP and BSP supported the govt., but not the FDI policy of its. With SP and BSP absent from voting  the halfway mark was reduced and it was well withing reach of UPA.  when the voting was done 470 something votes were considered as valid reducing halfway way mark still below, in which 252 votes were in favor of passing the bill. With that UPA won the FDI vote, a vote which was considered Agni Pariksha of UPA.

now back to our discussions on

why educated masses must not vote?

In the above mentioned story, there were 2 main issues with the system of voting. The issues were:

  1. Absenteeism
  2. Invalid voting

The above 2 issues affect the way even our votes are counted. In both the cases, the majority requirement was reduced. Lets learn it with an example.

Consider an example of a constituency with 100 voters and 3 people in fray. This constituency has 50 educated middle class people, 25 rich people and 25 poor uneducated ones. Consider out of 100 only 50 turn up for voting i.e. rich and poor ones (p.s. figure based on our national average of voter turnout not a wild guess). There will be malpractice by candidates. Since rich people cannot be bought, candidate will certainly make sure majority of rich either do not vote or their vote being invalidated. Now since votes of majority rich people are invalidated, lets peg the score at 10 rich votes out of which candidate 2 gets 5 rich votes and candidate 3 gets 5 rich votes. The poor people are already under heavy burden hence they will vote for any candidate, who gives them more money. Hoping that candidate 1 is the richest. Since poor are uneducated, some of them will make mistakes which will result in invalid votes. Also no one bothers to tamper with poor’s voting, hence invalid voting in poor will be much lesser. Lets peg the valid poor votes around 20. Since candidate 1 was richest, most poor would vote to candidate 1. Let the candidate 1 gets 14 poor votes, and candidate 2 & 3 gets 3 votes each. At the end Candidate 1 gets 14 votes, candidate 2 & 3 get 8 votes each and only 30 votes are considered as valid in a constituency of 100. Since the candidate 1 has majority of 14 votes, he wins (p.s: 50% majority doesn’t apply to our voting).
In a constituency the winner has majority of 14% votes!!! In a constituency the valid votes are 30% and rest 70% are either absent or invalid!!!!! In the above cases of parliament and constituencies, the absenteeism and invalid votes are not counted and majority clause is updated likewise.

getting back to reasons “why educated masses must not vote?”

  • Why to vote when I am certain that I will be the only middle class person to do so and 1 vote won’t bring any change?
  • Why should I vote to scumbag politicians, who have already played politics on many rich people, invalidating their votes, also playing politics on us after getting elected?
  • Why should I vote, when I can lay back in my house and enjoy the holiday?
  • Whom to choose, when I know that all the politicians are scumbags?
  • My votes are consistently getting invalidated!
  • Its in my fate to get suffered under the hands of these scumbag politicians.
  • Its all those poor people’s fault! Nor they had voted for wrong candidate not the headache of this scumbag politician would come.
  • “See Ben, I do want the evil galactic empire be destroyed, but I do have other pressing needs of building my career etc.. I cannot waste my time on useless activities like this -Luke Skywalker/ You” (only a star wars fan would know meaning behind)

You are reading an Article by Harsha Ankola, originally posted on Harsha’s Tech Space. If you have enjoyed this post, be sure to follow Harsha on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.