The Bharatiya Janata Party secured about 19% votes in the general elections of 2009 to win 116 seats in the Parliament. With this most impressive conversion ratio, they had more or less exhausted their possibilities in their ‘safe’ states like Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, and the like. They were still 157 seats away from a simple majority in the Loksabha. Even assuming the impressive conversion ratio, they needed at least 26% more of the vote share, that is 45% in all, to form a government.
When the elections for 2014 were announced, it was hard to see where the BJP would get these additional votes from. Moreover, unlike the NDA of 1999-2004, they had rather modest support from other parties with most of the big parties like AIADMK, TMC, JDU, BJD, and the like staying away. Hence, even if we factor in some rise in number of seats in ‘safe’ states, plus handsome gains in Rajasthan, Maharashtra etc., their ability to reach anywhere near the 272+ mark looked rather dim.
Reports of manipulations of Electronic Voting Machines across constituencies have been coming in, and discrepancies in voting figures have been noted in some constituencies. Earlier, before the elections, there had been reports of two machines in Assam that were so programmed as to vote BJP, whichever button you pressed. A Congress counterpart of this was also discovered in Maharashtra. These reports were then dismissed as aberrations. The question now, it seems, is far more serious. Here is a report from Dainik Jagaran (Varanasi edition), that reports that a Sector Magistrate who had taken the machines home is now in trouble after the EC had to investigate an allegation to this effect and found it to be true. Acdcording to the report, the son of the magistrate concerned took some photographs and posted them on Facebook. One of them went viral.
The self-righteous Delhi based mainstream media has of course chosen to ignore this news completely; Jagaran has at least reported it, even it actually minimizes the significance of this lapse. Here is the Jagaran report:
Of course, this is not the first time that this has happened. Earlier, soon after the 2009 elections too, serious allegations had been raised and this is what one report in Huffington Post had observed:
From May 6 onwards, the candidate’s name was ‘coded’, based on their position on the EVM, and the number of ‘votes polled’ were added, even though voting had yet to take place in many constituencies and, even where voting had taken place, votes were yet to be counted. Even more confounding, the ‘votes polled’ numbers were adjusted in subsequent spreadsheets before the results were announced.
The matter is very serious and needs to be pursued. Investigations continue.
क्या निराश हुआ जाए? कल सुबह से हजारी प्रसाद द्विवेदी का एक अन्य प्रसंग में किया गया यह प्रश्न मन में घूम रहा है. चुनाव नतीजों के पहले ही चरण में पिता ने फोन पर कहा: “यह तुम्हारा पहला कड़ा इम्तहान है.”पिता ने, जो अब जीवन की सांध्य वेला में हैं, कहा, “हम तो किनारे पर खड़े लोग हैं, तुम सब अभी इस जिंदगी के रेले के ठीक बीचो-बीच हो, भागने का न तो कोई उपाय है और ऐसी कोई भी इच्छा कायरता होगी. इसका सामना करो और इसे समझो.” हजारीप्रसाद जी और अपने पिता को कहना चाहता हूँ, वह जो रवींद्रीय ब्रह्मांडीय उदारहृदयता का स्वप्न आप सबने दिखाया था, कामकाजी रोजमर्रापन की तेज रौशनी में खो गया जान पड़ता है. शायद हम सब अब तक सो रहे थे,अचानक जगा दिए गए हैं. निराश या हताश होने की सुविधा नहीं है. समझने की कोशिश ही शायद इस यथार्थ का सामना करने के साधन देगी! Continue reading क्या निराश हुआ जाए?→
The sweep is certainly breathtaking. Way beyond what most surveys and exit polls predicted. To be sure, our commitment to the democratic spirit demands that we recognize the mandate for what it is – at least on the face of it. And on the face of it, it is a triumph of the Modi-led BJP. Behind it, of course, lies the organizational machinery of the RSS and its familial organizations.
However, it will be a mistake to think that the election was fought and won by any of these outfits. From 1998 onward, the BJP, backed by the same RSS parivar, has continuously registered a decline in vote share, irrespective of whether it was in power or out of it. From 25.6 percent in 1998, it declined to 22.2 percent in 2004 and further to 18.8 percent in 2009. The presence of younger people in RSS shakhas too has been significantly on the decline in this period and in particular, after 2004. In period of the run-up to the elections, the BJP was a ramshackle and directionless party – its top leaders like LK Advani and Jaswant Singh disgraced and then brought back; Atal Behari Vajpayee knocked out of action for quite some time by then and practically all state units riven with internal dissension. As a consequence, it was also a party therefore, with completely demoralized ranks.
How then did the change come about? As long as our eyes remain fixed on the supposedly ‘political’ domain, we are unlikely to be able to see what exactly has been going on. The fact of the matter is that Narendra Modi was neither BJP’s candidate of choice nor that of the RSS. This election was fought by the corporate sector directly, along with the Big Media – the surrogates of the corporate sector. The plan to set up Modi was put in place by these players. And in this process, the emergence of the Big Media as a full-fledged propaganda machine of Modi’s constitutes a significant moment. It is a moment that actually awaits a more detailed study of how exactly the game plan was put into operation but one thing can be said right away. What brought about this result was not just the machinery of the Sangh parivar but the mobilization of a whole range of opinion makers to serve what was to be a clearly Hindutva framed political formation. Most of these intellectuals and opinion-makers are economically right-wing (neoliberal fundamentalists) although not Hindu-communal, but while they do not seriously believe that Modi has shed his Hindutva skin, they are prepared to join the propagation of lies, lies and lies in the service of corporate capital, disguised as the ‘greater good of humanity’. Continue reading So Who Has Won the Election?→
The narrow streets of Goduliya Chowk were bursting at the seams yesterday. It was the time of the famous Varanasi aarti at the ghats of the Ganga, a time when the crowd multiplies by several hundreds of people. Narendra Modi was preparing to head out on his triumphant road show through this area, choc-a-bloc full. The BJP’s activists were in a frenzied trance – waving saffron flags, flaunting Modi caps (a tawdry imitation of the original AAP trademark), dancing and chanting: Modi, Modi. As a person with no love lost for Modi, I responded to the exultant mood with some apprehension. My thoughts were straying to the nukkad sabha of the AAP that I attended last evening when a group of 20 young and old AAP volunteers had gone around campaigning for Medha Patkar’s meeting. I found myself thinking about the evening a couple of days ago when I stood with Anand Patwardhan and some activists who were distributing leaflets right there at Goduliya Chowk, and a group of BJP men came surrounded us. I thought about another night spent at Kabir Math Chowk after watching the Dastangoi performance – when a group of young men from Bangalore and Maharashtra were confronted by BJP supporters. I was worried about their safety standing amidst a crowd which appeared dangerous in its swaggering triumph. Yesterday, with Modi’s cavalcade approaching, frictions were reaching fever pitch – encounters one could not possibly see on the images on TV at home.
Standing there amidst the crowd, I spotted an elderly Sikh gentleman walking through the throng of people wearing his AAP topi. Suddenly a roar went up, as Modi sympathisers lunged after him shouting ‘pagal, pagal’ (mad/mad). A little distance ahead I saw another man wearing the AAP cap. The crowd spotted him too, and ran after them both, gesticulating, heckling. As I start walking quickly towards the men I saw them, seemingly unperturbed, walk right through the charging hoard, not a sign of nervousness about their gait. They were walking the confident walk of men who know no fear. Continue reading BJP’s Campaign of Intimidation – A Report from Banaras: Monobina Gupta→
When polling began on the morning of April 10, our team coordinating the Aam Aadmi Party campaign in Bawal was expecting to respond to complaints of money and alcohol distribution. During the jan sabhas throughout the area, Yogendra Yadav, the AAP candidate for the constituency, had made it amply clear that, “na toh hum shraab bechenge, nah hum bikne denge.” We had spent days training booth volunteers who would be available to assist voters with information and monitor elections throughout the 200 odd villages in Bawal. Our mobile teams would document any violations of the electoral code and lodge complaints with the requisite authorities. Having campaigned in the Delhi elections for AAP, I knew firsthand that the secrecy of the ballot gave people the chance to rise above external pressures and inducements. After the hard yards of campaigning, voting day seemed set to be relaxing and I occupied myself with preparations for lunch for the numerous volunteers who were streaming in and out of our office.
Bawal is less than 100 kms from Delhi and is one of 9 legislative constituencies that comprise the Gurgaon Parliamentary constituency. In fact, Bawal falls within the National Capital Region and has been proclaimed as soon joining the constellation of Delhi’s satellite towns. There are already hi-tech factories strewn along the Delhi-Ajmer Highway and then there’s the buzz about the upcoming Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor. Of course, the symptoms of lop-sided development are visible right behind the façade of big industrial complexes. With one quick turn off the highway, the roads fall apart and you are welcomed to villages with virtually non-existent education and public health infrastructure. However, I realized the extent of the distance between Bawal and Delhi only after our phones started ringing on the morning of 10th April and we set out to see for ourselves the manner in which citizens are allowed to exercise their electoral rights, in the world’s largest democracy.
A wave, as in, something that engulfs, leaving you to suffocate and die, is a dangerous thing. It smothers to the point of numbness, listlessness, leaving the subject of that smothering out of synch with even a basic natural harmony of simple breathing. So, if at all, as the mainstream TV media brands are shouting at us to believe (all brands are included in this, with little difference in terms of projection of images or blaring of sounds couched in very urbane elite language of ‘dialogue’ that essentially means shouting down or politely stating the bias towards that so-called ‘wave’) that the idea of Modi is a ‘wave’, and if it indeed is a ‘wave’, then it is indeed dangerous. If the current spate of interviews with Modi are analysed, what I see is a man with the craftiness of a character playing with and teasing and flirting with the media, and making them hear just two words (to the exclusion of all else) – “good governance” and “development” (not necessarily value-less, non-problematic, opaque terms by themselves). He sits there pontificating to the journalists interviewing him about these two terms as if they existed in a vacuum; he is perpetually in a teaching mode to the journalist in question who is either listening in awe or seems to beam in a strange elite, urbane, civility and sometimes veneration and respectability even as he or she asks him questions on the Muslim massacres of Gujarat, almost empathising with him even as he plays ‘victim’ with such panache. This Modi cannot be a cruel perpetrator of crimes against humanity, it seems, from the image constructed through advertising and clever make-up and PR (obviously by industry that truly wants him to win for a never-before free-market loot that is expected from him as a token of appreciation post-elections, if at all he wins, which at the moment, is a mere idea, or a prediction based on the construct of the ‘wave’). Continue reading A Wave is a Dangerous Thing: R. Umamaheshwari→
For those of us, whom the well organized Right on the internet describes as “sickular”, the prospect of Modi as Prime Minister is unthinkable. Congress is then a reflexive default – not a party of choice. Its secular credentials too are tarnished with 1984, but its communal capitulations are opportunistic (and thus contained) unlike the BJP with its official Hindutva party plank. Moreover with all its corruption and contradictions, the Congress has always had a strong left-liberal strand, providing some space for engagement to further progressive agenda, enacting for instance the landmark Right to Information Act, NREGA and FRA. However faced with a Rahul Gandhi versus Modi contest – the former a reluctant prince leading a dithering party, the latter the decisive machismo king of no-nonsense governance – it appears that Congress has decided to move so far to the Right that 2014 looks set to become a Modi versus ‘sickular’ Modi contest.