Skip to main content

2019 to be last polls India to have? Need to "prove wrong" such doomsday pundits

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*
General Elections 2019 are round the corner! The dates of the elections have not yet been announced by the Election Commission of India (ECI). In all probability they will do so by March 15. The ECI has within its powers to announce the dates 28 days before the actual elections, though by precedence they do so between 30-45 days earlier. Elections are expected to be held between April 20 and May 15 in various phases (unfortunately, there is plenty of fake news doing the rounds on social media!).
There are some ‘pros and cons’ for a delayed election dates announcement. It gives more time to those who are not on the electoral rolls to register themselves; secondly, it provides lesser time for the actual campaigns by political parties/candidates (so perhaps lesser time for extravagant spending and also for the viciousness in the campaign speeches).
However, a delayed announcement also means that the ruling party makes hay when the sun shines. A clear indicator is the full/half page advertisements which the Government has sponsored in several friendly dailies (at huge expense to the exchequer) and the slew of inaugurations and other melas being organized everywhere.
In Gujarat itself, the PM has spent the last few days hopping from one event to another, with plenty of publicity. Once the elections are announced and the model conduct is in place, none of these tamashas can officially take place!
One positive fallout of the delayed announcement is that those who are on the electoral rolls can still register themselves- provided they do so immediately! One has to visit the National Voters Services Portal http://www.nvsp.in of the ECI and/or download the voter helpline app from the Playstore; one can also visit the website of the Election Commission of India (https://eci.gov.in/ ).
Clear instructions are provided; one has to upload some necessary documents like proof of birth, address etc. So do so now -- before it is too late! Kindly also help the poor, the marginalized to ensure that their names are on the electoral rolls!
Plenty of news/rumours are doing the rounds! Apparently from some areas, (particularly those dominated by the minorities) several names are already missing from the electoral rolls. Just having an Electors Photo Identity Card (EPIC) is not sufficient for exercising ones franchise; one needs to make sure that ones name is also on the electoral rolls (check online).
There is an online campaign (www.lostvotes.com ) #LostVotes to allow ‘Indians on the Move to Vote from their Current Location’ in the 2019 elections, initiated by the Times of India. On February 24 in a panel discussion Can our Democracy Afford Crores of Lost Votes, at the 2019 Times Litfest in Bengaluru, it was said that in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, there were 28 crores enrolled voters who did not cast their ballot.” A move worth joining in and popularizing but whether at this late stage the ECI will have the wherewithal to comply, is very doubtful.
Then there is the issue of faulty voting machines! A news item in the Indian Express of 7 March (Pg. 5,ed. Ahmedabad),said that ECI had found in Gujarat 3,565 Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and 2,594 Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT)machines defective and had rejected them.
It is an accepted fact that EVMs can not only be manipulated but also hacked. Several major democracies have done away with electronic machines and use only paper ballots. It will be impossible at this stage for the ECI to return to paper ballots; besides there has been no consistent outcry from the major political parties for a change.
There are several objective analysis done on the performance of the current government. The ratings given on every parameter are from dismal to very bad. Economically, the country is at its lowest: demonetization has taken its toll on those living from hand to mouth; corrupt crony capitalism is on the upsurge; an Oxfam report of January 2019 highlighted the growing gap between the rich and the poor; of how just nine individuals in India own 52% of the nations wealth.
Communalism (which has made lynching, the new normal) continues to rear its ugly head, with the minorities on the receiving end. A UN Report of September 2018 puts India in the category of the worst offenders against human rights defenders. Several have been killed or put in jail!
A recent Reuters report highlighted that India is the most dangerous place for women. Millions of tribals/adivasis/other forest dwellers are on the verge of being evicted from the forests. There is massive agrarian distress with several farmers committing suicide.
There is an upsurge in unemployment. A leaked version of a report ‘Annual Survey on Employment and Unemployment' for the year 2017-18 from the National Statistical Commission (NSC) showed unemployment rate in India at a 45-year high during 2017-2018.
Recently, two government officials, including the acting chairperson of the NSC resigned, protesting the withholding of the report. There has been great interference in the functioning of independent/autonomous bodies of the country-the Judiciary, the RBI, the CBI, the Information Commission and quite obviously the ECI too: A clear undermining of democratic institutions processes and even a threat to the Constitution of India!
The less said about the so-called ‘mainstream’ media the better: most are owned by a couple of pro-government corporates. They kowtow to the powers and they dish out blatant lies and false propaganda.
Attempts are made to put the controversial Rafale deal, under the carpet, despite incontrovertible evidence! India as a nation has never been so corrupt! Sitting members from other parties are being bought up with mind boggling amounts. Indian politics has been criminalized as never before!
The Ram Mandir is in the spotlight once again. The Pulwama attack and the subsequent surgical strikes on Pakistan -- ‘seem’ to have given the Government a fresh impetus. The unfortunate thing is that everything seems so dicey and that any question, asked impartially for transparency and truth, is bound to be regarded as anti-national or unpatriotic!
There is already talk that this may be the last elections the country will have. Such doomsday pundits must be proved wrong! The people of India have demonstrated in the past, a wisdom that is able to see through betrayals, false promises, lies and empty rhetoric. The coming elections will hopefully see that: a vote for change!
---
*Indian human rights activist. Contact: cedricprakash@gmail.com

Comments

TRENDING

Mallika Sarabhai releases speech she was 'not allowed' to give at NID Convocation on Feb 7

Counterview Desk
The National Institute of Design (NID) in Ahmedabad, a Ministry of Commerce and Industry body, landed itself in controversy following its decision to put off its 40th convocation ceremony, where noted danseuse Mallika Sarabhai was invited as chief guest. The ceremony was scheduled to be held on February 7.

As corona virus 'travels' to rural areas, NGO begins training tribals, marginalised women

By Souparno Chatterjee*
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared corona virus a pandemic. Originating from Wuhan in China, it has traversed the entire globe, almost, and claimed more than 16,000 lives already. That’s largely the urban population. In India, despite all the preparedness and war-like promptness to safeguard against the pandemic, several lives have been lost , and hundreds of individuals have tested positive.

Rani Laxmi Bai, Tatya Tope 'martyred' by East India Company, Scindia's forefathers

By Our Representative
In an email alert to Counterview, well-known political scientist Shamsul Islam has said that was “shameful for any political party in democratic India to keep children of Sindhias in their flock” given their role during the First War of Indian Independence (1857). In a direct commentary on Madhya Pradesh Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia moving over to BJP, Prof Islam has quote from a British gazetteer to prove his point.

Modi, Shah 'forget': Gandhi’s first Satyagraha was against citizenship law of South Africa

By Nachiketa Desai*
Hindu fanatic Nathuram Godse assassinated Mahatma Gandhi once on January 30, 1948 but his followers raising the war cry of ‘Jai Sriram’ are killing the Mahatma every day. In his home state of Gujarat, Gandhiji was killed a thousand times in 2002 when over 2,000 Muslims were butchered, their women raped, homes and shops plundered and set on fire and even unborn babies ripped out of the wombs of their mothers.

ISKCON UK 'clarifies' after virus infects devotees, 5 die due to big temple meet

By Rajiv Shah
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), United Kingdom (UK), has admitted that at least 21 of its devotees were infected because of the spread of the coronavirus amongst the UK devotee community following the March 12 funeral and March 15 memorial of the Bhaktivedanta Manor temple president, in which about 1,000 people participated. Regretting that five of the devotees have passed away, the top Hindu religious in Britain body does not deny more may have been infected.

COVID-19: Dalit rights bodies regret, no relief plan yet for SCs, STs, marginalized

By Our Representative
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the National Dalit Watch-National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, endorsed* by several other Dalit rights organizations, have insisted, the Government of India should particular care of the scheduled castes and tribes, trans folks, persons with disabilities and the women and children from these communities, while fighting against COVID-19 pandemic.

Coronavirus scare ‘pushing’ people from Northeast India into more hardship

By Rishiraj Sinha, Biswanath Sinha*
“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background or his religion. People learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” – Nelson Mandela
***

Gujarat govt plan to 'banish' Gandhian activist anti-democratic, unconstitutional

By Rohit Prajapati*
The current Central and Gujarat governments, and their bureaucracy, have been and are still unable to answer and address the concerns raised, with facts, figures, and constitutional provisions, regarding the terror of tourism in the name of the Statue of Unity and tourism projects surrounding it.

Gujarat construction workers walk home as Rs 2,900 crore welfare fund lies unused

By Our Representative
Situated behind the Gujarat University, some of the families of the migrant construction workers from Dahod and Panchmahals districts of Gujarat, and a few from Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, who had stayed put in make-shift shanties in Ahmedabad’s sprawling GMDC Ground, have begun a long journey, by foot, back to their home villages in the eastern tribal belt of Gujarat.