In a city with an estimated population of 25 lakh, why are there only 11 lakh voters? The answer lies in the inflexibility of a voting system, which has left thousands of people who have adopted Gurugram as their home disenfranchised. People are any city’s strength, they bring diversity, talent and vitality to its culture and economy, just as the migrant population has to Gurugram. But not empowering them to vote makes democratic foundations weaker, and turns the same strength into weakness by giving a smaller population size much bigger say in who leads us, right from our municipal wards to Parliament. Here are 14 short stories from the city that underline the outdated rigidity of our voting system, which creates these
Gandhiram | 55 | Cobbler
Can’t afford to travel home every time there’s voting
Gandhiram hasn’t voted in the last four elections. How could he? Work has kept him in Gurugram since 2002 while his vote is registered back home in Bihar’s Sasaram. Gandhiram is a cobbler and lives with his wife (45) and three kids in Nathupur. He makes around Rs 8,000 a month and can’t afford the journey home during elections only to cast his vote. “We will have to leave the kids behind unattended for 7 to 10 days and I won’t be earning during that period. We cannot afford that. I really want to vote but there is no facility for me to register here,” says Gandhiram, who isn’t aware he can register as a voter anywhere. He wants the next government to focus on education so the next generation has more employment opportunities.
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City now his home but hometown has his vote
A resident of Chakkarpur village, Mandal has been living in the city for the last 12 years. He moved here from the suburbs of Kolkata in 2007, and initially rented a rickshaw. After three years, he had enough to rent an auto. Today, he has his own auto. Gurugram is his home now but he has no say in how the city is governed. “Gurugram is my home. I got married here. My children are born here. My family lives here. This city has given me money which I couldn’t have made in my hometown. However, I am still registered as a voter in Kolkata,” he said. Mandal cast his vote only once in the last 12 years. “It was in the last general election when I was in there for some work. I can’t go every time elections are held. It will cost me so much. After all, I am not paid by the government to vote,” he said.
Bhaskar Malik | 29 | Fitness Trainer
Being a registered voter should be good enough
Bhaskar travels to Rishikesh every time elections are held because he is registered as a voter there. A resident of South City II, Bhaskar has been living in the city for the last three years, but hasn’t moved his vote with him. He would like to see a system where all registered voters can vote, irrespective of where they are. “I try my best to vote every time elections are held. It is extremely important because every vote counts. I always encourage my friends and family members to cast their vote. Often, people who come from other states or cities can’t travel to their hometown due to professional commitments and their vote is lost. I travel to Rishikesh as it is close to the city. But if I move to a city, which is really far off, it will not be possible for me to vote.”
Ramdev Prasad | 35 | Food vendor
Don’t want a brush with the authorities
Prasad is from Madhubani in Bihar. He came to Gurugram 11 years ago and has a stall in DLF 3. Prasad left Bihar in search of employment and found himself becoming a part of Gurugram’s informal economy that employs thousands like him. Prasad had sought a Mudra loan but did not get one. He also had a run-in with MCG, which relocated his stall. Now, he is hesitant to approach anyone in ‘authority’. He is registered as a voter in Bihar and is happy to show that ID to whoever wants to see it. But what about missing out on voting? Prasad has more immediate concerns.
Munnu Rajput | 35 | Gardener
Don’t have an address proof
Munnu has been living in Gurugram for 5 years. He works in a condominium in Sector 50. He is a voter in Kannauj, his hometown, but hasn’t registered himself here. That is because he doesn’t have proof of residence. Munnu lives in a shanty for which he pays rent but there is no rent agreement in such a setting. And without a residential address, he says, he hasn’t even tried to enrol as a voter.
Rosme Chaube | 37 | Social media influencer
A standard ID can help people on the move
Rosme came to Gurugram five years ago. Married to an Armyman, they are on the move every few years. And getting documents updated with every change of address is a challenging task. Rosme, who hasn’t voted for the last 15 years, wondered why the government could not accept a standard ID instead of asking for separate sets of documents. Having bought a house in the city, she now plans to get her voter card updated. Otherwise, she won’t be able to support the candidate she is rooting for in a way it really matters.
Zahur Ahmad | 20 | Construction worker
I have no idea how to enroll as a voter
Ahmad migrated to Delhi from Bareilly with his parents, who worked as construction workers. He came to live in Gurugram 12 years ago. Two years ago, he turned 18 and became eligible to vote. A frail man who isn’t very fond of talking, all Ahmad says is that he has no idea how to register as a voter. “Who should I approach to get this done?” he says with a shrug. Ahmad said he doesn’t have the information as to where he should go to get himself registered. He has tried to talk to several of his friends and relatives before but to no avail.
Devanshi Tyagi | 21 | Student
Enrollment process too cumbersome
Devanshi has been in the city since she turned 18, when she moved to Gurugram from Delhi. She hasn’t registered as a voter here because, she says, the whole process of getting a voter ID made is too cumbersome. The final-year BCA students says the Election Commission should organise more camps where people can go and register before the upcoming Lok Sabha and state elections.
Madhu Narula | 65 | Homemaker
One can’t vote when a system is not supportive
Madhu Narula moved to Gurugram from Delhi six years ago. She applied for her voters card at the time of the MCG elections in 2017, but has not received it. “After moving to Gurugram, I had to travel to Delhi to cast my vote and it was difficult.” she says. Madhu says it is a citizen’s prime responsibility to vote. “I understand it is very important in a democracy to vote. However, one can’t vote when the system is not supportive. There is a need to work out a mechanism so that one can vote from anywhere in the country. After all, we are all Indian citizens,” she says.
S Raghuraman | 50 | CEO
Job keeps me moving, have not voted in 32 years
Raghuraman came to the city in 2015 when he was given the job of looking after the Gurugram-Delhi expressway. “I do feel helpless as I am a registered voter in Tamil Nadu. My paternal house is there, so why should I register in another city when after retirement I have to go back to my hometown,” he asks. His job has taken him to different parts of the country. “As a result, I’ve not cast my vote for the last 32 years.”
Ravi Kumar | 29 | Cab driver
Don’t even know who to approach to register as a voter
Ravi left his hometown Bhiwani nine years ago for better opportunities. He has voted just once, in a gram panchayat election. “Living in an expensive city like Gurugram with my wife and children keeps me on my toes all the time. Even on public holiday, the demand for cabs is very high. Ravi says he follows the PM on social media but has no idea where to register in Gurugram and whom to . “FM radio can help spread the message of the significance of voting for everyone,” he says, referring to a medium he is most often tuned into in his cab.
Kirti Pathak | 25 | Advertising executive
Hectic workdays leave no time for enrollment process
Kirti Pathak says she lived in all major Indian cities, thanks to her father’s Army job. Her father, who retired and settled down in Haldwani, voted for the first time at the age of 60. But she is not a registered voter anywhere. A strenuous job means Kirti is left with little time to pursue a voter registration.
Deepa Malik | 48 | Paralympic medalist
Ambassador for voting but she won’t vote from city
In 2016, the State Election Commission in Haryana declared Rio Paralympics silver medalist Deepa Malik its brand ambassador. “I recently held a workshop in Sonipat to (encourage people to) cast votes.” But Deepa, who is a registered voter in Jaipur, has not re-registered herself in Gurugram, where she moved four years ago. “Once I know I will be staying (long-term) in the city, I will go in for registration in Gurugram,” she adds, reminding the government of its promise to give her a job.
Harishankar | 42 | Paan store owner
Don’t believe my vote matters
Harishankar’s ‘chai’ and tobacco kiosk is thronged by office-goers. The Raebareli resident shifted to Gurugram five years ago to seek a livelihood. He says he supports Congress, which he describes as ‘majdoor’ party but he does not believe his vote counts. Shankar hasn’t voted since he moved to Gurugram and does not feel the need to get his vote transferred here. Asked about joining the party leadership, he responds nonchalantly —
“Change won’t happen in a day. The party needs to work hard to beat the opposition.” His vote would surely have counted.
Question & Answers
Where in Gurugram do I register to vote?
At the office of the district election officer at mini secretariat. One can also register online at https://nvsp.in
What is the process to register as a new voter?
You need to fill in the application (Form 6). Once this form is accepted, your name will be included in the electoral roll as a voter. You can fill the form online or download and submit it to the election officer.
What documents do I need?
Address and age proof and two colour photographs. For address proof, driving license, passport, bank pass book, gas connection record book, electricity bill and landline bill will do. Birth certificate and school leaving certificate, etc can be used as age proof.
If I’m registered as a voter in another city, how do I enroll here?
Submit Form 6 with existing voter card along with fresh set of documents and two colour photographs.
Is there a window to register before the Lok Sabha election?
Every year, the district election office issues revised electoral lists. One can enroll as a voter before announcement of election dates by the Election Commission. The enrolment, remember, will be for the assembly constituency you live in.
How long will it take for me to get a voter ID?
If all documents are in place, one can get a voter ID card within two weeks of submitting the application form.
How will I know about my constituency and polling booth?
Call on the helpline number 1950.