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April 24, 2014

Millions vote in India's longest elections in history

By Kalpana Balaji
Chennai, India

We are electing our representatives for the central government today. Who we vote for will determine the Prime minister. The choices are not great but the event itself is quite a spectacle. The 2014 Lok Sabha elections is happening in nine phases spread over a month and we in Chennai fall into phase six today. I come under the South Chennai constituency and within that there are various sub-sub-sub parts that determine where I queue up. Considering South Chennai has 3.5 million voters and the country has 814.5 million people on its electoral roll, it's quite a management miracle.

I went with my grandmother, who is 85 years old and was determined to exercise her right. Our polling booth was in a corporation school — ten residential areas have to come here to vote. The open quadrangle had ten different queues snaking around the shamiyanas, those striped colorful clothed tents in my sketch. I had thought I would have plenty of time to dash off many sketches but, thanks to my grandmother, I was given red carpet treatment. A security guard ushered us in and we were out in five minutes! Actually all the queues were moving pretty fast.

Earlier in the morning I sketched another line of folks waiting to vote in Mylapore, just outside my house. This was around eight in the morning and the line was very, very long. Generally, the lines are much longer before office starts. All the schools and colleges have to shut as they become polling booths and counting centers.

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Balaji Venugopal said...

I recognise both locations. You have captured the character of both polling centres in your sketches.

Rajeswari said...

Excellent sketches!

James Hobbs said...

An electorate of 800 million people is mind-boggling. These are great moments to capture.

Nithya Balaji said...

Good sketches. What about faithful women drivers ferrying elderly members of family braving challenging road blocks?

kb said...

Thanks very much for all your comments. Yes, it truly is mind boggling.

VHein said...

Thank you for posting this, very enlightening to see, and read your story too--great sketches!

kb said...

Thanks so much Virginia!

sanjeev joshi said...

good subject..never seen on usk..i can very well relate to the the sketches..

kb said...

Sanjeev Joshi, thanks very much for your comment. I'm a big fan of your watercolours and so happy that you liked this post.