Vice Presidents message to citizens on the eve of General Election
“Tomorrow is the beginning of the largest democratic election in the world in which, over the next five weeks nearly 90 crore voters will exercise their franchise in about 10 lakh polling stations across the country to elect their representatives to the Parliament and a few State Legislatures.
India can legitimately be proud of the fact that it adopted universal adult suffrage right from the founding of the Republic in 1950. As Shri Alladi Krishnaswamy Ayyar, Member of the Constituent Assembly said, “More than any other provision in the Constitution, I should think the boldest step taken by this Assembly is in the matter of universal adult suffrage with a belief in the common man and his power to shape the future of the country”.
That is the faith our Constitution makers reposed in each one of us. It is that trust in the wisdom of the people and their ability to shape the future of our country that drives our electoral processes.
Over the last seventy years, more and more people have participated in elections. While there were about 17 crore voters in 1951, the number increased to 83 crore in 2014. While the voter turnout in the 1951 elections was 44.8% it was 66.3% in 2014. Even though this reflects a significant improvement, more voters must participate in the electoral process. Voter turnout must be enhanced. There are 465 political parties today as compared to only 53 in 1951. Clearly, the seeds of democracy sown in 1950 have taken root. They must be further nourished.
We are today the largest democracy in the world. We must now make it the best democracy in the world.
We, the people, have an opportunity to realize that dream. We have to exercise the right to vote, the right to choose and the right to shape the quality of our polity.
I would urge each one of our citizens to exercise this precious right to make their opinion count and elect the representatives who have the 4 positive characteristics or 4Cs, as I call it: character, calibre, competence and conduct they wish to see in these public representatives.
This is not only your right but your responsibility to not let the moment pass. It is a moment that comes only once in five years. It is a moment that gives you the right to “assess and assert”, as Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyayji had said.
You should examine the profile of the candidates and their past performance with a vision that is not clouded by the glitz and the glamour, the power and the pelf, the threats and inducements. You must discard those candidates whose claim to fame is only based on what I call the negative 4Cs – Cash, Caste, Community and Criminality. You must make an informed choice. Thanks to technology, we have quite a bit of information available to make this choice. Sift this information, analyze it and then come to an informed decision.
A few days from tomorrow, we shall also be celebrating the birth anniversary of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, the visionary Chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee. He had cautioned us way back in 1948 that “however good a Constitution may be, it is sure to turn out bad because those who are called to work it, happen to be a bad lot.”
It is, therefore, incumbent on each one of us to avoid the “bad lot” while making a choice.
I expect each one of us to pause and ponder, assess and act.
That’s the only way we can deepen and strengthen our democracy. That’s the only way we can breathe life into our Constitution. That’s the only way we can secure a better future for ourselves and our country.”