THE resolute manner in which some regions voted in big numbers despite serious terrorist threats in the first phase of the Lok Sabha elections, signifies a very welcome victory of the democratic ideal. People in disturbed areas such as Kashmir, Bastar in Chhattisgarh, and Gadchiroli in Maharashtra defied the threats from separatist militants as well as Left Wing Extremists -- that is Naxalites or Maoists -- and voted in truly encouraging numbers was a remarkable feature of the first phase of the general election. In the entire electoral picture spreading in 18 States and two Union Territories, the areas in which common voters defied threats may look actually small geographically. Yet, in the given situation, whatever was on display was a very soothing sign for Indian democracy now standing at the historic cross-roads to decide which way the country is going to poise itself for the future.
The vengeance with which these areas voted in the first phase has a talismanic value for India’s democracy that often attracts global attention every five years as the largest exercise of its kind in the world. Such a display of collective courage by people occupying critical yet diverse slots on the national continuum actually demonstrates a higher and finer level of maturation of our democratic system and its processes. The people in other areas may never realise the value of such a vote with sublime vengeance. Yet, it is necessary for them to understand that the threats to their brethren in areas under the unholy shadow of extremism are always very real and very serious. An when such people defy the threats and fulfill their democratic duty with commitment and loyalty to the greater cause, they rise above the mundane and strengthen the signature of India. This contribution can never be underestimated.
The nation must acknowledge its presence and value, which is what we wish to do as a newspaper with nationalistic ideals as our guiding light. We wish to bring to the notice of the nation the importance of such a resolute exercise of democratic right to vote and core obligation to fulfill. It is no mean an achievement to attain such high percentage of voting under the shadow of terrorist threats and assert the democratic right of voting. Against the background of a widespread apathy towards voting -- found mostly in highly urbanised regions of the country -- the importance of what has happened in Kashmir, Bastar and Gadchiroli can never be overstated. For reasons as flimsy as high summer temperatures, countless lakhs of people remain indoors on polling days and refuse to join the great festival of democracy. There also are countless thousands of people across the country enjoying ‘holidays’ on voting dates.
They then emerge from their slumbers later on and criticise the Government for whatever ills they see and sense. Such people -- who duck the basic democratic duty and responsibility of casting vote -- actually lose the right to criticise the system in which they do not participate in full measure. The example of voting with vengeance in Kashmir, Bastar or Gadchiroli or many other areas in that category, therefore, needs to be treated as one to be emulated by one and all across the geographical and demographic landscape. It is out of this sense of the national need that we salute the resoluteness with which the peoples from areas under extremist threats for showing the courage to stand up and get counted -- in actuality in the proverbial ballot box (in the era of electronic voting machines). We assert once again that the common people in other areas must make special efforts to understand the high degree of difficulty involved in voting defying terrorists.
Yet, with each example coming to fore, very surely the extremists take one step back. In the given condition, making them do that is a great nationalistic feat.