How to Vote Like a Gujju


How to Vote Like a Gujju

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi, Hardik Patel, Jignesh Mevani – these are the names that have dominated discussions at the dinner table, as Tarak Mehta takes a break. In Gujarat, everyone has strong opinions about each of them. But all the talk is now over, as voting day is upon us.

I quite like voting day, not only do I get to elect the people who would be running the state, but it is also a holiday in the middle of the week. Electing your future leaders feels a lot less patriotic when you have to do it on a lazy Sunday. For a change, the poll dates are in December. The early morning Ahmedabad chill forces people to wear sweaters and mufflers, which Arvind Kejriwal mistook as the AAP wave in 2014.

In Ahmedabad, our mornings begin with fafda, jalebi, and voting day is no different. As we settle down after breakfast, a frantic search for everyone’s voter card ensues. While the current government is on this spree, I suggest we should be asked to link our voter cards, credit cards, UNO cards with our Aadhaar. At least then we can stop worrying about where to find them.

I have high hopes from this election; if you were to judge any polls on the basis of their entertainment value, then Gujarat has already won the day. It has been really difficult to determine who to vote for this time. I don’t even know the name of my local candidates, even though I know a lot more about Bigg Boss contestants and their personalities. In fact, I propose that there be a Bigg Boss for politicians, so that we can show some more interest. Or as the BJP calls it, Amit Shah.

The other day, Modi ji landed on a seaplane on the Sabarmati and I was left wondering whether I was watching an election rally or a Salman Khan movie.

Everyone I know is going to vote based on whether they like the BJP or the Congress. I tried finding out what both parties have promised, but there is more genuine content, promise, and delivery in a Roadies interview than there was during the campaign in Gujarat.

BJP came up with their manifesto just a day before the voting began. They were so busy focussing on Rahul Gandhi, they probably forgot that they have to make their own case. A Test match lasts longer than the time BJP gave the people of Gujarat to make an informed decision. Meanwhile, as booze is off-limits in the state, Rahul Gandhi was busy temple-hopping; he might as well feature in the next version of Temple Run. The other day, Modi ji landed on a seaplane on the Sabarmati and I was left wondering whether I was watching an election rally or a Salman Khan movie.

I told myself, voting is always about electing the lesser of two evils. But then, our politicians didn’t help much in that department either. The name-calling was so bitter, it was like watching two people fight on a Delhi highway after bumping their cars. Mani Shankar Aiyar called the Prime Minister “neech”. I was really offended by that, if you’ve come to Gujarat, at least use some local slang like “gadhedo” or “gando”. The BJP in turn called Rahul Gandhi more names — they probably have a writer on their rolls to think of puns and jokes around the Clown Prince.

The other day, workers of one party were giving free frying pans to everyone in the building, thinking we would vote for them. I was appalled by this conduct; did they really think they could bribe and buy our votes with frying pans?! Especially in the age of power banks and selfie sticks?

I also followed the results of exit polls, which further added to the confusion. One said that the BJP is securing a massive win, another one says it’s a photo finish, while Yogendra Yadav believes the Congress is in for a massive win. Friends and family have their own underground stories and conspiracy theories. Someone told me EVMs have been hacked. It’s like watching a WhatsApp group come to life.

As I got ready to head to the polling booth, I saw on TV that the Prime Minister was heading to vote in the same location. The traffic looked scary, and for once, I wished I could take a seaplane there. The queue at the booth was so long; it felt like we were waiting for special darshan at Kedarnath.

My turn finally arrived and the process was over in a flash. We’ll know the results in a few days, but that is inconsequential. What is important is that I had got my finger inked, so I could safely bombard Instagram. I’m only following in the PM’s footsteps.