Letter to the Election Commission of India written by 64 former civil servants, endorsed by 83 veterans, academics and other concerned citizens.
Shri Sunil Arora, Chief Election Commissioner, Shri Ashok Lavasa, Election Commissioner, and Shri Sushil Chandra, Election Commissioner.
Election Commission of India.
Serious Irregularities in the Conduct of General Elections, 2019
- We are a group of former civil servants that takes up, from time to time, matters of exceptional national interest, seeking to remind our cherished democratic institutions of their responsibility to uphold the lofty ideals of the Constitution. We write to you today to draw your attention to the several very troubling and still unexplained issues pertaining to the conduct of the General Elections, 2019, by the Election Commission of India (ECI).
- From time to time, the media has reported on various irregularities in the conduct of the 2019 General Elections. While we accept that not every media report is accurate or true, the ECI’s non-rebuttal of an untrue or inaccurate story leaves the public to draw its own conclusion: that the ECI has no valid explanation to offer. The mere dismissal of the allegations as baseless, without an explanation as to why they should be so considered, is unsatisfactory. As the custodian of the most precious commodity in a democracy – the people’s mandate – it is your duty to be transparent, and accountable to the Constitution and the people of India. Continue reading Lok Sabha Elections 2019 – Calling the Election Commission to account: Statement by retired civil servants, veterans, academics and concerned citizens
In an earlier post we made note of the serious matter of unaccounted movement of EVMs in private vehicles in different parts of the country and the mismatch between the ECI figures for voter turnout and EVM votes cast, neither of which the EC has satisfactorily explained until today.
Now in a detailed analysis in NewsClick, Ravi Nair points out that even three weeks after the last phase of the election, ECI is yet to publish the “final data”, and whatever it has put out till now is “provisional numbers”. More worryingly, Nair points out that when glaring anomalies came into the public domain, ECI not only deleted the uploaded data from both Suvidha Portal and its main website, but also issued a release to say that whatever was published was “the provisional voter turnout data”, which was “tentative”.
However, the ECI never bothered to answer the fundamental questions: How did it announce winners based on these “provisional” and “tentative” data? How did the automated counting of votes polled in EVMs become “tentative”?
Read Ravi Nair’s article “ECI’s stance on data discrepancies: No right to question?” on NewsClick here.
Unfolding Debate about Secularising Education
( To be published in ‘Indian Journal of Secularism)
“There is in every village a torch – the teacher; and an extinguisher – the priest.”
“Keep the words God, Jesus and the devil out of the classroom.”
A school teacher’s message on the first day of the school for first-grade students had caused tremendous consternation among a section of the parents.
She had a simple rationale to present her proposal. With their being a public school with children coming from different religions and beliefs joining it, she did not “[w]ant to upset a child/parent because of these words being used,” In her letter she had also advised them to talk to the children when they go to the church/temple/synagogue – whatever might be the case – or discuss the issue at home at an appropriate time and place of talking about it.” (https://www.indystar.com/story/news/education/2017/08/30/teacher-tells-first-graders-dont-talk-god-classroom/612118001/)
Well, instead of the discussion getting fixed on the slow imposition of the concept of God or closing of child’s minds it turned into a debate on students’ free speech rights. It did not take much time for the management of the school to rescind this proposal.
There is nothing new about this dilemma faced by a teacher who has welfare of students at the center of her/his concerns. Continue reading God in the Classroom!
Caution: Long read!
This is the elephant in the room, is it not? Was this “massive mandate” of the Lok Sabha elections 2019, the result of a free and fair election? Should we continue to discuss this outcome – the scale of the BJP victory, the numbers of seats, the margins by which seats were won – through political analysis alone?
Rather, has not political analysis of the election become inevitably deeply influenced by these margins and these numbers of seats, by the scale of the sweep? In other words, the analysis is of necessity post facto, assuming that these seats have actually been won fairly, and therefore represent the views of the electorate.
I found very revealing a story by two Reuters journalists who covered rural North India extensively. Mayank Bhardwaj and Rajendra Jadhav ruminate on how they could have gone so wrong in assessing the mood of the electorate. Although they say they never thought Modi would lose this election, it looked certain that he would return with a reduced majority. There was nothing they heard and observed on the ground that suggested the actual outcome. They conclude that next time they will travel even more, push their respondents harder, “be more aware of our limitations.”
Many seasoned journalists have the same sense of shock. But what if they were not wrong after all?
Continue reading The “massive mandate” of 2019 and the role of the Election Commission