Today is a voting day in my city. I will go out and vote. This vote is for me, for my bright future, for my family’s safety and future and for my next generation’s future.

I have been casting my vote since 1998. I vaguely remember the look of the small school room that was converted into a polling booth. It was a typical setup with few benches occupied by electorate officers. It was not the age of electronic voting machine. After being verified by the officer, I was handed a paper slip containing the names of candidates belonging to few parties.

The dominant party in Kalyan, Maharahstra at the time was Shiv Sena. I had no idea about the candidate or the work that he did for the constituency. I was given some tips by outsiders and family members - primary being vote for the largest party which at that time was Congress (I). I stamped the slot in front of the Congress (I) candidate and dropped my vote in the ballot box and that was it. Voting for the first time then felt a lot more ordinary than what I see today for the first time voters or for seasoned voters. There was no rush of emotions or matter of pride as I see today in the first time voters. It felt like any other normal act for me. Things continued and life kept moving.

I moved countries and cities, but I kept voting. My vote always went to Congress, not because I was loyal to them, but because I wasn’t aware or tried to make myself aware of any other candidate. I tried staying away from politics as much as possible. But while I was casting my votes in subsequent years, unbeknownst to me a wave of nationalism was being formed in the country. The wave was far away from me to be soaked by it, but nevertheless it was gaining momentum.

I moved to Bangalore, India and the first time I got a chance to caste my vote was in 2014. I still remember the day. It was a bright and sunny morning with lot of chatter and action on the street near to my house. Along with two friends in the apartment, we joined the queue for voting. The steps were the usual, but this time the ballot box was replaced with a EVM. My ID was checked by the police officer and then the electoral officer. He shouted my name and handed over the ID to other officer who was sitting in the next bench. After the lady officer verified my credentials, I signed my name in a register and then proceeded to a small aluminium sheet covered booth encasing the Electronic Voting Machine. This time I was sparsely aware of my voting rights and I decided to vote for the revolutionary party of 2014 - Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). I decided to do this only because from my constituency AAP had fielded a highly educated and reputable candidate.

To this day my wife teases me of my choice. The way AAP has turned out today, I am still ashamed of my vote in 2014. However, I am glad that it didn’t matter to the nation. By then the wave of nationalism had drenched the country completely, and in 2014 BJP came to the fore as the leading party. India, under the charismatic and dynamic leader, Narendra Damodardas Modi and his trusted aide Amit Shah was all set to change the dynamics of politics, but more than anything else the future of India.

There have been many path-breaking decisions and actions taken by BJP under Modi - Ram Temple, CAA, UCC, Article 370, AIIMS, IITs, Roads, Railways, Economic Development etc. Many people on Twitter have gone through painstaking effort to list down the achievements since 2014. I will spare myself the effort of redoing them. But in my mind the two most signficant changes that Modi has brought is to make a common man like me interested in politics, and to make a Hindu proud of being called a Hindu.

I had, until now, despised the idea of politics. I always thought that no matter who I choose, things will never improve. And my vote will never matter. Politics is for the aged and the retired to sit in the garden and discuss over a cup of tea with wife or friends and end the discussion with the ubiquitous dialogue: “is desh ka kuch nahi ho sakta!”. To the second point of hiding your identity, we were thought that Hindus are subservient, we should always give up our ideals for the larger good, being a Hindu means weak. But Modi changed that perception by displaying his Hindu identity proudly and making us feel pride in wearing it ourselves. Today, I discuss the ideas boldly with my friends and we respect each other’s opinion.

Today I am proud to say that I too have been ‘Modified’. I take more interest in politics than ever before. I follow what is happening in current affairs, and I am excited to go ahead and cast my vote for BJP. It is no longer just a duty, but a sort of celebration for me.

I always thought that I am just an ordinary brick in the wall when it comes to nation building. And that my choice will never matter. But Modi proved me wrong. He showed how important it is for every eligible individual to vote and vote for the right candidate. He has shown that no matter how hopeless the situation looks, there is always a silver lining. I might be a just an ordinary brick in the wall of nation building, but I know that one missing brick can bring the whole structure down or complete it. So, go ahead and cast your vote today. It might be the turning point in your future and your child’s tomorrow.

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