Guest Post by REENA GUPTA
When polling began on the morning of April 10, our team coordinating the Aam Aadmi Party campaign in Bawal was expecting to respond to complaints of money and alcohol distribution. During the jan sabhas throughout the area, Yogendra Yadav, the AAP candidate for the constituency, had made it amply clear that, “na toh hum shraab bechenge, nah hum bikne denge.” We had spent days training booth volunteers who would be available to assist voters with information and monitor elections throughout the 200 odd villages in Bawal. Our mobile teams would document any violations of the electoral code and lodge complaints with the requisite authorities. Having campaigned in the Delhi elections for AAP, I knew firsthand that the secrecy of the ballot gave people the chance to rise above external pressures and inducements. After the hard yards of campaigning, voting day seemed set to be relaxing and I occupied myself with preparations for lunch for the numerous volunteers who were streaming in and out of our office.
Bawal is less than 100 kms from Delhi and is one of 9 legislative constituencies that comprise the Gurgaon Parliamentary constituency. In fact, Bawal falls within the National Capital Region and has been proclaimed as soon joining the constellation of Delhi’s satellite towns. There are already hi-tech factories strewn along the Delhi-Ajmer Highway and then there’s the buzz about the upcoming Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor. Of course, the symptoms of lop-sided development are visible right behind the façade of big industrial complexes. With one quick turn off the highway, the roads fall apart and you are welcomed to villages with virtually non-existent education and public health infrastructure. However, I realized the extent of the distance between Bawal and Delhi only after our phones started ringing on the morning of 10th April and we set out to see for ourselves the manner in which citizens are allowed to exercise their electoral rights, in the world’s largest democracy.