It is election time in Mumbai, so I am framing some guiding principles that I plan to follow in this, and all the subsequent elections. You too can do the same!
1. I will ensure that I cast my vote. It is not only my right & duty; it is also a privilege to vote. How much ever imperfect our democracy may be, democracy it is, and I am lucky to be born in one. Almost half the people in this world do not have the privilege to vote. Remember the adage: “Bad governments are elected by good citizens who do not vote”. If we do not exercise our franchise, we may lose it one day.
2. I will research candidates in my constituency. With the advent of technology and increased transparency in recent years, citizens have better access to information about the parties and their candidates than before. I will use it. If I can spend three hours watching a movie, I might as well spend some time researching who will maintain the roads I walk on, supply the water I drink or decide what to do with the tax I pay from my hard earned salary.
3. The person is more important than the party. The simple rule here is that a good person in a bad party is better than a bad person in a good party. So I will vote for the candidate, not for the party.
4. I will not vote for the known devil. I will not vote for a candidate who was elected in the past but did nothing for the people, or has a corrupt or criminal background, or reveals wealth that does not justify his known professional or educational status.
5. I will not presume that everyone is bad. If the major parties do not put up candidates who are good enough, there are always fringe political parties or even unknown independents whom I can vote for. I don’t see any harm in voting for the unknown ones when the known ones are failing my test. If nothing else, I can use education as a criterion to decide whom to vote for. Not that it is a fool-proof criterion, but atleast it is better than voting on the basis of religion, caste, language, fame or good looks.
6. I will not worry about how others vote. Whether the candidate I vote for can win or not, or whether his party can form the government or not, is irrelevant to my decision of whom to vote. Remember that we not only elect our government, but also our opposition! In a democracy, having a good and effective opposition is as important as having a good government.
I hope these rules will help me in choosing the right candidates, or atleast prevent me from choosing the wrong ones. If everyone does the same, we will have Ram Rajya one day.