Why The Expressway to Pune Being Jammed Today and Yesterday Seems a Sign of Voter Apathy

Why are people leaving town because there is a holiday to vote, when the reason for the holiday is that you have time to go and vote?

Bhavin Jankharia

My family has a place in Lonavala, where someone goes every weekend. 

I went this Friday afternoon and the travel was a breeze - it took me less than 90 mins to get there from Prarthna Samaj. 

My parents came in yesterday and it took them an hour extra, because there was traffic in the ghats at 10 in the morning. When I was returning today on a Sunday morning at 8.30, Google Maps told me that the Expressway was blocked going from Lonavala to Mumbai, so I went via Khandala and reached home in under 90 mins, but I could see an endless sea of cars on the opposite side on their way to Lonavala and Pune or beyond.

To digress, the Expressway police indulge in a practice called “Spreading the Pain”. When the traffic towards Lonavala/Pune builds up, typically on long weekends, they block the traffic going towards Mumbai and open up the opposite highway to be used by cars and trucks going towards Lonavala/Pune. The people on their way to Mumbai typically have to wait and suffer for between 20-30 minutes, completely standstill, for absolutely no fault of theirs. The Expressway police is truly socialist…if the people on the way to Lonavala/Pune are suffering because of heavy traffic, even those going towards Mumbai should share the suffering. Luckily, you can escape this by going via Khandala, which I do these days, if Google Maps tells me to do so.

Anyway, all this typically happens on long weekends, not on regular weekends. I didn’t realize that this was a long weekend, until I heard my parents tell me about the traffic and then I realized that because Monday was a holiday, people were treating it as a long weekend…it took me time because we don’t have a holiday in my practice…everyone gets 2 hours off, before or after work to vote.

Why do you need a holiday to vote in Mumbai? Seriously? 

But now that this is a holiday, clearly a whole section of society has decided to holiday. People who came in yesterday into Lonavala/Pune or are coming in today, are clearly not going to come back on Monday in time to vote.  Most of them have decided to leave Mumbai for the long weekend, with no intention of casting their vote. 

It makes no sense.

The holiday is so that you can go vote. If you don’t vote, and if you leave the city to enjoy this so-called holiday, that is so pointless. You are supposed to vote, and even if you don’t like the candidates, tick on NOTA…but to not exercise that one right and responsibility we have in a democracy? 

You have to vote. If there is no candidate or party worth supporting, then cast a NOTA vote. But vote! You cannot leave the city and consider it a long holiday weekend, just because the day has been declared a holiday…it has been declared a holiday so that you can go and vote. 

You could argue that the same then applies to Diwali, Christmas, Republic and Independence Day holidays when a large number of people take off to distant parts. It is not the same! You can celebrate festivals wherever in the world you are and you do not have to wear your patriotism on your sleeve. 

A voting day holiday is a holiday so that you can go and vote. So go and vote. Don’t leave the city!

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