Earlier this month, India’s election commission scheduled five state elections which are set to happen in the course of next two months (February – March). The five states include Uttar Pradesh, Punjab (4th Feb), Goa (4th Feb), Manipur (4th and 8th March) and Uttarakhand (15th Feb). In Uttar Pradesh, of course, the elections will be amulti-phase, starting on February 11 and will go on until March 8. The results of the polls from all the five states will be out on March 11, according to the election commission.
Among all the states, the UP elections have generated the maximum heat thanks to the state’s size and influence n the national discourse. However, giving the whole election scenario a digital angle, how many apps or services are there on the internet right now which actually helps one choose the right candidate for his/her state? Very few, if you go by our research.
Where on one hand, Prime Minister Modi is at full throttle for the Digital India perspective, on the other hand, the most important aspect of a democratic country i.e. The Elections, are yet to reflect the governments intent on digitalisation. No, we are not saying that the whole process of polling in your votes should be digitalised but what we really want to emphasise about is the process which precedes the Election Day. No doubt, we get the latest news about all the happenings before elections on the internet, TV or even on Radio, but there are very few one-stop options which provide an in-depth information about both the news, seats, opinion polls and election dates. Perhaps one reason is that the information lies with the election commission, which like any government of India body handling massive projects of this scale, tends to go focus on successful culmination rather than the preceding imperatives.
We searched around a little bit and the closest we could get to a one-stop information about the upcoming elections was the ‘Election Watch’ app on Google Play Store. You can download a tonne of news apps which will keep you updated about the upcoming elections, but this app is more than a news app. Apart from latest news fetched from different sources, Election Watch also pours in some latest ‘Opinion Polls’, information about Assembly seats, Lok Sabha seats, Rajya Sabha seats, information about when elections will take place etc.
However, we still don’t have an app or any online service which would give us detailed figures about a particular candidate or even who all are standing in for the upcoming elections in a particular state. For voters who don’t have the luxury of tracking political goings on, this lack of information itself might be a key reason for apathy, and consequently, poor voter turnouts. This is where the bigger, well funded political parties play their cards with heavy campaigning and release out promising manifestos to induce people to vote for them. Further making it a tough struggle for the smaller parties and candidates. Which, in retrospect, is a great shame.
At a time when the current Indian government is pushing the concept of digitalisation, especially post demonetisation, it is sad to see nothing of that sort coming in the election game. It does look like another case of big government missing the woods for the trees, or in this case, taking care of only the players instead of the paying public.
Do let us know your thoughts on the upcoming elections and is the new ‘Digital India’ episode that is currently being run down in our country can really help us choose our next candidate?