THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: At 75, C Thyagarajan's convictions haven't changed. He and others like him are past that age when the elections coloured their lives. There is not much excitement, even as the capital is inching closer to the elections- but vote they will. “There is no enthusiasm now. But I am very keen on voting. I have never been a party worker but always been a sympathiser. And I have certain convictions about voting and that hasn't changed,” smiles Thyagarajan who has been living at the Government Care Home in Pulayanarkotta for the past nine years. For this retired English professor, casting the vote is mandatory, and never has he missed out on exercising his franchise. “That is our right and we must make use of it,” he says. Other inmates also echo Thyagarajan's sentiment as they are all geared up to participate in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. On Tuesday, over 60 inmates of the old age home will cast their vote.
In all, the home houses 96 inmates and around 55 inmates have received their voters' slip. “This time we could enrol more inmates into the voter's list. Since they all come from different parts, we decided to get them all registered here. The inmates will be accompanied by our staff. As many as 65 inmates will be voting in this election,” said M Shynimol, superintendent of the care home. During the last election, around 60 inmates cast their vote. “Our inmates are politically aware and casting votes is integral to them. Last time our ambulance was used. But this time, we will be arranging the transportation facility by associating with nearby hospitals,” she said.
In all, there are 18 old age homes under the Social Justice Department. In the capital, there are two under the department- one at Pulayanarkotta and the other at Poojappura.
The first time Bhaskaran voted was in 1951. And all these years, he has never missed out on an election. For this native of Kannur who was an active party worker, the elections is a very poignant period of time. It has been 18 years since Bhaskaran has been living at the care home. And even at 84, his thoughts are clear and his convictions intact. And this time too he will turn up for voting. How can one not vote? he asked. “It is a citizen's most prominent right!” he quips.
For many, voting has become a habit and has been embedded into their lives so much so that they can never think of not turning up at the polling stations on D-Day. All that Mary Fancy Mathew wants to do is cast her vote. “Since I used to stay at the home of relatives before coming here, there was no scope to vote. Whenever authorities would come calling to enter the names, they wouldn't give mine. I am yet to know if I will get to vote this time,” says Fancy who arrived just six months ago. But there are also the naysayers, those who believe that not much will change post the elections. “The state is just switching between two parties. Unless this is changed, nothing constructive is bound to occur,” says Murali.
As many as 37 women dwell at the care home in Poojappura. But only one inmate is expected to cast her vote this election time. “We don't have their proper ID cards. As many as 14 women are bedridden. This time, we have gotten in touch with the brother of one of the inmates. Only she expressed willingness to vote and we are trying to ascertain if her name is in the voter's list,” said Sajitha.