Staying Cautious in Voting Season

By the Editor: Siddharth Sehgal

Election dates have been declared, political landscape is hyper charged with rallies, slogan and speeches but the most effective medium of electoral outreach lies in your hands. Trust me, in this election season be careful with WhatsApp and Facebook messages, the automated calls and what not that will try to seduce you away from the facts because believe it or not, these social media messages will influence the votes of a lot of people and in our country a lot is a lot.

We Indians have a lot of means to connect but none is more potent than WhatsApp, all you have to do is open the app and type in your opinion and hundreds or thousands can read what you are feeling in a matter of seconds. Given this reach, WhatsApp has become a propaganda battle ground, and IT cells of all political parties are burning the night oil to get their version of truth to you. All, it will take a google search to verify 80% if not all of the contents that you get but when it comes to issues that concern you, please make it a habit of fact checking the info and if possible, sharing your findings with others.

I’ll share a very funny example of this propaganda war that I saw myself, few months back there were elections in my home state and I was discussing the local candidates with my mom and following is the snippet of how it went.

Me: “So, mom, who are you voting for this time?”

Mom: “There is a candidate (of a certain party), I will vote for him.”

Me: “Never heard his name.”

Mom: “He is a good guy”

Me: “How do you know?”

Mom: “Everyone is saying so, I got a message on phone too, and he has helped the poor”

Me: “Really, what did he do?”

Mom: “Umm, don’t know but everyone is saying he is a good person and helps the poor“

Me: “So, no one actually knows what he did for the poor but people will vote for him.”

That candidate lost the election but if my mom’s perception can be influenced, I think anyone’s can, it’s okay if you vote for someone but at least try to make sure if that person meets the criteria on which you are giving him your mandate because there is a good chance that you will not hear from this person for next five years. I have a water problem in my neighborhood, but I have never seen elected representative visiting the place and talking to people, and the incumbent member of parliament of my hometown once held ministry of sanitation and drinking water. Most of us never meet our representatives because they simply don’t care. Just like products we end up choosing representatives who don’t represent us. So please do your duty, do caste your vote but please, don’t make your voting decision based on WhatsApp messages.

 

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