India goes to vote every five years, and each time new voters exercise their right to choose a candidate to the Lok Sabha. Against this backdrop, however, the 2019 general elections is perhaps unique, as those who witnessed the rise of Narendra Modi will now be able to decide whether or not they want to see him back as the Prime Minister.
For 23-year-old Shayan Bisney from Hyderabad, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government’s performance since 2014 was definitely on his mind when he went to cast his vote. Having witnessed the “Modi wave" last time, Shayan now said he “voted for change". As a young law student, currently pursuing his degree from the Symbiosis Law School in Hyderabad, incidents pertaining to freedom of speech and freedom in general seem to be on his mind.
“I voted for change this time and also kept in mind the balance between (the) Centre and state in terms of the candidate from my constituency (Malkajgiri), the largest in India in terms of voters. There are central issues. I want to go out and eat (outside) without fear and I do not want someone to call me something because of my name. I don’t want to write something online and get arrested," he said.
With about 3.2 million voters, the Malkajgiri Lok Sabha seat is considered to be a “mini India", as it has a mix of locals, non-locals and army personnel residing within its limits. The Congress had fielded one of its state working presidents A. Revanth Reddy, who took on the Telangana Rashtra Samithi’s (TRS)’s Marri Rajasekhar Reddy, a local, and the BJP’s Naraparaju Ramchander Rao.
In 2014, the Telugu Desam Party’s Ch. Malla Reddy had won the seat, but later defected to the ruling TRS. While Shayan wants a change at the Centre, he is however quite content with the TRS government in Telangana. “I have no complaints with regard to the state government," he quips. Moreover, the youngster is also of the opinion that the None of The Above (NOTA) option is not the way to go if people want a change in the country. “NOTA will not make a difference even if it gets the highest votes. So it will be a waste."
How was his experience as a first-time voter? “The process was smooth. I went around 10am. I kept my voter ID with me, and it took 10 to 15 minutes. I had gone with my sister. Though we do not discuss whom to vote for in our house, I know there was no cross-voting (between political parties)," Shayan said, laughing.
Recalling the political scenario since 2014, Shayan said he has in fact noticed a deterioration in the discourse on politics among his peers. “During 11th and 12th, there was not so much anger (among people)." However, the 23-year-old hopes that the 2019 elections will bring an end to the current regime.
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