How Game of Thrones inspired me to vote this Lok Sabha election

To those who don’t want to vote, or think politics in India is not your concern or are a Game of Thrones fan, this Lok Sabha Election is more critical than you think

How Game of Thrones inspired me to vote this Lok Sabha election

Strong references to Game of Thrones follow. If you are in it just for the politics visit our Lok Sabha Election special page for complete coverage

   The election atmosphere in India is divided into two factions - the ones who forward/ share/ read/ watch WhatsApp messages and the ones who don't. In other words, the ones who are deeply involved in the controversies, debates and hashtags that tilt them towards one party or the other and the ones who are just observers from the sidelines.

These two types aren’t opposite forces. It’s not black and white, right and wrong or love and hate. It’s more like the WhatsApp side is black and white while the other gray, right and wrong as compared to ‘i don’t know’, and love and hate versus indifference.

I belong to the second type - the observer, at the back end of the sidelines - gray, indifferent and ..I just don’t know.

Four years ago, I was on the other side with a clear picture in mind and an opinion on matters big and small. In Game of Thrones lingo, I wanted ‘x’ person to sit on the Iron Throne. However, that changed quickly, very quickly! And I started looking away from day to day political discourse, I stopped reading the newspaper, I stopped caring about which politician said what and I deleted most news apps from my phone (could also because 64GB started seeming insufficient).

This is where I stop talking about WhatsApp forwards and colours and more about my favourite cinematic experience - Game of Thrones. Before you read any further I must mention - SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS!

When we start watching GoT, we get consumed in the intricacies of the dynamics between the major Houses and have already picked our favourite characters. Everyone wants Ned Stark to be king and Cercei is a hateful bitch(well, she still is) and who even is Theon and what is that poor girl doing with that ‘horse everything’ barbarian. And just like in all stories Ned will defeat the Lannisters and the show will end in a few seasons. But Ned is killed, suddenly there are dragons and weird new characters, the bad guys are winning and this show is definitely not ending soon.

Enter Sandor Clegane aka The Hound, one of my top 3 characters on the show. The Hound fights for the Lannisters but has his own bitter past; has an evil brother and insecurities and phobias just like all of us. He’s involved in these squabbles between Houses and has to fight and risk his life just like any other soldier. Much like you and I are forced to pick sides - saffron, green, red or whatever colour and have to defend our thoughts on that WhatsApp group.

In season 2 and far from having any clarity on who will ‘win’, our friend, The Hound throws down his armour and is on the run. Away from the politics and kings, battles and weddings. You know why I relate to him now. Cause for the like of me (the non-WhatsApp sharing kind) dialogues like “F*** the King” or in this case, the ‘system’ resonate. We have no hope for the future and no matter who sits on the Iron Throne we truly don’t care.

Over time though, we are taught that the battles fought to overthrow each other and gain power are not important. Insensitive remarks, deceit and crime against the enemy and friend alike are just everyday things that we have to bear with. The real war is not between Stark and Lannister or Robb and Joffrey, it’s something much bigger. It’s about survival.

But let the politicians of Westeros and India play their games. How does it concern The Hound or me?

A couple of months ago, I’d decided that this Lok Sabha election, I’ll be heavily into a one and a half hours long epic episode of the Battle of Winterfell with no ink on my finger. I’ve voted four times to date. Always with a different approach, always hoping this time would be better. And of course, things haven’t changed much at the local, state or national level. Until recently, I too wasn’t bothered with this party or that and it all seemed the same to me.

Before the final season started on April 14th, I had to do one last re-run of season 1 through 7. The Indian elections were getting underway too. It was the easy thing to do, away from political chatter and more storage on my phone.

Somewhere around season 6, The Hound in the midst of a constant existential crisis realizes that there’s a threat to all humans alike. Mysterious creatures who only existed in people’s imaginations are on the march, wiping off whatever lies in their way. The quarrels and politics don’t matter. As a whole, everyone must fight together to drive the common enemy away. As an individual does The Hound still need to bother with this? The Houses can make their alliances and fight this strange enemy, only to return to their usual dynamics once done. But if he doesn’t pick up his sword again, that’s one less person against the Army of the Undead. It’s that much lesser hope for a normal tomorrow. Lesser chances for future generations. He is now very much fighting to have a better future for his kind.

We have something to fight for too. Leave aside those WhatsApp forwards that are utterly biased, forget about what your news anchors are telling you and don’t worry about who’s going to be PM. Cause as our Dragon Queen says, “Lannister, Targaryen, Baratheon, Stark, Tyrell. They’re all just spokes on a wheel. This one’s on top, then that one’s on top. And on and on it spins. Crushing those on the ground”.

Just remember this, you’re voting because you want to see a better future for yourself, eventually. If you don’t then you’re not influencing this change. Other people will make their choice and you will have to live with it. You might wonder how your one vote is going to matter. It probably won’t give you the result you desire anyway. Imagine this - if only 10 people were voting then each of those 10 would be so very important and you would definitely do everything you can to influence others. Just because we’re 1.2 billion (or 120 crores as we say), your vote doesn’t cease to be important. If we all start thinking like me from two months ago then there won’t be any point of being part of a democracy. That good old phrase, “Every drop in the ocean matters” is more relevant now, than ever before.

Let me leave you with this thought from Jon Snow from the latest episode, as he forgives the man who crippled his brother and started a war with his family, “We need every last man”.

As for me, on 29th April, I’ll cast my vote and then watch for what promises to be an incredible battle against those deadly powers.