Laying Low for the Election

Tomorrow (May 16) is election day in Tamil Nadu (where I am staying). The Chief Minister and the Legislative Assembly will be voted on. You can read more here.

J Jayalalithaa is the incumbent Chief Minister. She is a former actress and has served as prime minister of Tamil Nadu for a number of years (from 1991 to 1996, in 2001, from 2002 to 2006, and from 2011 to present, according to Wikipedia). I actually saw here drive by in a motorcade in February.

Since the poll date was announced several months ago, all billboards and walls painted with Jayalalithaa’s face and popular name “amma” (mother), had to be painted over (they were everywhere). In addition, one could not carry more than 50,000 rupees (about $760) without having proof of origin (e.g. ATM slips, etc). This was supposed to cut down on the buying of votes. As a part of this, police stops were increased (our vehicle has been stopped twice).

In order to curry favor with the voters, Jayalalithaa has provided bicycles and laptops to all students (i.e. the new voters), as has given a fan, a grinder and a food mixer to all those who qualify for that level of rations (there are different ration/id cards based on one’s annual income).

My landlord told me that often these “gifts” are usually not as nice as they may seem, as the companies who supply them don’t provide as high a quality of good as promised and often they are DOA.

As tomorrow is the polling date, I have been told by the head of the BELC and also by my driver that I should not leave my apartment. Rival parties have been known to get into scuffles and even throw rocks at one other.

The results will be announced this Thursday, May 19. My driver told me that I should especially stay inside on that day, as the loosing party supporters often express their displeasure after the results are announced.

Please pray for the government leaders of India, and the states of
Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, that they will continue to allow the work here to be done unhindered so that the pastors and members of the BELC and CLCI can share the good news of the salvation we have through Jesus Christ.

Update: When you vote in India, they mark your right index finger with ink to show that you have voted (and so you can’t vote more than once. That explains all the signs I’ve seen with a line on that finger, or a miniature image of India or Tamil Nadu. Martin, my Telugu tutor was just here and explained the mark on his finger, as he voted earlier today