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"Take time to deliberate; but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go in."
- Napoleon Bonaparte

Don’t Just Vote, Make it Count - Become the SWING VOTER

There is a myth that the Educated Civil Society, being small in numbers, can not influence the electoral outcome. Consequently majority of us are not motivated to engage with the political class. Many of us abstain from voting because we believe that we are too small in numbers to change the ways of Indian politics.

However, a closer analysis will reveal that in this age of coalition politics, with so many parties and candidates, victory margins are very small. In fact, most MPs in urban centers win by margins of just few thousand votes.

4 out of 7 seats in Delhi were won by narrow margins in 2004 Lok Sabha elections - New Delhi – 12784, South Delhi-16005, Delhi Sadar – 15974 & Karol Bagh 37,629. Mumbai also had similar figures, 3 out of 7 seats were won by less than 25,000 votes - Mumbai South-10246, Mumbai – South Central-22188, Mumbai North Central – 13,329.

This is not true only for Metro, even smaller cities across the country have witnessed similar trends. Victory margin in Kanpur was just 5,638 votes, Nashik – 15,058 votes, Ranchi -15,421 votes, Allahabad – 28,383 votes and Bangalore North – 30,358 votes.

Another myth is that Indian politics is decided by rural India. Hence issues relevant to the city dwellers and educated civil society are of no relevance to political parties as they do not need urban votes to come to power. The fact is that 2009 Lok Sabha will have 120+ MPs (out of 543) from Urban Areas.

Just concluded delimitation of constituencies has dramatically increased the number of urban constituencies, which will further grow as India urbanizes. 120 is a huge number, given the coalition politics where Mrs. Mayawati, with potentially 50 MPs, will have the real possibility to stake the claim for Prime Minister’s post.

We also need to note that in 2009 elections we have more than 10 Crore First Time Voters, majority of them in urban areas. Compare this with the vote difference between two national parties, Congress and BJP in 2004 Lok Sabha Elections, just 98 Lakh votes of total 38.99 crore votes polled.

In 2004 Lok Sabha polls BJP got 22.2% and Congress – 26.7% of the total votes polled – 38.99 crores (58%) of total 67.15 crore registered voters.

ELECTIONs-2009 are DIFFERENT in many ways. Post 26/11 people are willing to get out and get counted. We have the real opportunity to MAKE A DIFFERENCE, this time around. So how do we do it?

Each major party and candidate have their own committed vote bank based on ideology, caste, religion, region or language which they nurture and hold by giving sops, favours, appeasement and promises.

However, during the elections, what all political parties need and fear the most are the SWING votes, which usually decide the winner. This number is not very large, specially in urban areas and presents an opportunity for educated civil society to come together and elect the candidate and party of their choice.

It is certainly not difficult to bring together 10,000-25,000 educated people in each urban parliamentary constituency as SWING VOTE BANK, who will vote based on the issues of “Good Governance & Economic Development”. If this happens, these ‘Educated Swing Votes’ will make every political party reach out to them and ask for their issues to be included in their agenda.

Now the question is, how do we organize these educated people, analyze & interact with major candidates/party and make an informed decision to VOTE with a real possibility of having a winner of our choice.

Use of technology will make it possible, Obama has shown it working. We are technology savvy and quick to adapt.

"Change India" –www.changeindia.in, has created a CHANGE platform, which you can join by sending an SMS - START CHANGE to 575758.

The target should be to get around 30,000 people in each of the constituencies across 25 cities of the country, accounting for around 60-80 MPs. Details of the candidates/parties will be shared via SMS and website and a deserving consensus candidate will be decided using a web & sms POLL.

We can make a BIG impact in the next Lok Sabha election and hold our winners accountable.

‘Choice is Ours’. Opportunity is NOW, as nation wants to bring a CHANGE in our political system.

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