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Government Gazette

Get this: You are who you elect!

Imagine today is April 10, 2010. The Elections Commissioner, Dayananda Dissanayake has announced that this party got this number of seats, that one got this amount and that the loudest mouthed party was humbled. The counting is all done. We know who is in and who is out, who squeaked in and who missed the bus, who bit the dust and who got singed but managed to come through the fire alive, who piggy-backed, who topped the lists and who had the last laugh.

Imagine that you are looking at the newspapers, checking out the lists of those who made it. You are aware now of who won and who didn’t and also who polled the highest, the second highest and so on right down to the person who just beat the next guy. You will also know who made it to Parliament through the National Lists of the respective parties.

Now imagine that all this information at your fingertips constitute a mirror. Try to imagine that what is before you is the image of The Voter. If you are the Collective Voter then the Parliament is the Collective Representative. The image is that of the ‘I’ who will be in Parliament until it is dissolved.

I am not a clairvoyant and haven’t conducted any surveys and therefore cannot predict anything apart from the fairly obvious. Let’s leave the ‘fairly obvious’ aside. Let’s indulge in a consideration of that fascinating category called ‘What If’.

What if a man who vandalized public and private property and caused sound and visual pollution was elected and someone who had the decency to respect election laws lost? What if the former topped the list and the other barely made it?

What if someone who spent Rs. 200 million and didn’t tell you where he got his money from and didn’t declare his assets win and someone who came out and said ‘this is what I have and this is how I came to have it’ lost? What if someone who spends his/her time tuning into that station called ‘political expediency’ and crosses party line as and when it is of benefit win and someone who remains loyal to the party regardless of the party’s fortunes at the national level loses?

What if someone whose most trusted political weapon is that which is called ‘bahu balaya’ and who thinks intellect and even general intelligence are simply not worth worrying about and indeed are to be ridiculed wins and someone who is clearly endowed with superior intellect and capability loses?

What if we see in this ‘mirror’ a thief and a murderer? What if the image that stares back at us is that of a moron? How about a traitor? What if it is a drug dealer? A ‘Sakvithi’ or a ‘Danduwam Mudalali’, only with more respectable sounding names/companies? Check out the names.

They will all sound nice. No mother or father, even if crippled creatively and in the midst of all manner of constraints would give names such as Malu Nihal, Kudu Lal, Choppe Aiya, Chandi Malli, Kudu Noor, Pichchichcha Piyadasa, Bada Mahinda, Kalu Bandiya, Bella Kapapu Ajith etc etc. You won’t find any such names in the final list released by the Elections Commissioner. But then again, we are not fools are we? Some people don’t need middle names like ‘Choppe’ or titles like ‘Kudu Raja’ or ‘Chandi’ for us to recognize that they are not saints, right?

Now what if some of these underworld creatures have got elected? What if you see beyond their ceramic countenances and do a full body search? What if you discover packets of heroin stuffed up you know what? What if you find a kinissa tucked into belt? What if there’s a galkattas?

This won’t happen in real life any time soon, but supposing you had some kind of magical device that enabled you to scan a face and bring to light all sources of income, all assets controlled and owned? What if the face before you is that of a person whose wealth was obtained by cutting trees, peddling drugs, holding innocent people to ransom and cutting deals?

This is simple, folks. It is not an outsider or intruder you are going to see in this mirror. It’s you. It’s me. It’s all of us. We are the guy who got in and that’s partly because we didn’t want to be the guy who lost, right?

If a rapist came ahead of an academic, then we have basically saluted rape. If a crook gets elected and an honourable man or woman is not, then we are partial to theft. If someone who changes party like changing underwear gets elected then we are a society that places very little value on loyalty and trust. If we elect people who think nothing of destroying public or private property, then that’s who we are: vandals.

If we elect someone who thinks nothing of felling 300 trees so that he can put up enough posters, then we are essentially a people salivating for desertification. If we elect thugs, we are for thuggery. If we elect kudukaarayas or those who are in the kudu business, then we want our children to end up as drug addicts.

There is a bottom line in this. Responsibility. We are who we elect. I am who I elect. You are who you elect. Unfortunately, I am who you elect and you are who I elect. There’s a Collective Responsibility here, therefore. The question is, are we thinking enough about it? I think we are not.

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