May 18, 2009

life in general: rigged elections in india...

After reading various newsreports and having looked at various election result numbers I get a sense that 4-7% of the winners have manipulated the election process or actually rigged the actual vote numbers. This has been done to either win (otherwise they would have lsot) or to inflate their winning margins (so that their image as a big winner is sustained). Across the spectrum of political parties this seems to have taken place with connivance of election officers appointed to oversee the election process and the post-election voting process.

One case that could not be kept completely under wrap is that of P.Chidambaram (the finance minister first and home minister later in the central government. Below (at the very end) is a newsreport that highlights the weirdness behind Chidambaram's claimed victory.

The media has miserably failed to be alert to vote rigging and manipulation during the elections and at the time of counting of votes. A shame indeed for the so-called largest democracy in the world!

Also, the way I see it there two major regressive allowances in the Indian constitution/election laws:
- a person who is a member of the Rajya Sabha (a non-elected House of the Indian parliament) is allowed to become the Prime Minister of the country. The classic example is Manmohan Singh's prime ministership of India from March 2004 to March/April 2009 and his expected continuation from now for next 5 years. I think the rule that allows a Rajya Sabha member to become the PM is very anti-democratic. Any individual has to have been elected by the people in the general elections for Lok Sabha to be eligible for the PM post. Manmohan Singh has not got those votes from the people. He should not be the PM. Our rules allowing him to be the PM makes a serious mockery of our claim to be a large, sound democracy.
- a person can stand in two election constituencies in the same elections. So if you are unsure of winning from one you stand from two seats and hope to win from at least one (like Lalu Prasad Yadav in this year's elections). Or, if you are sure of garnering majority votes from two seats (genuinely or through rigging!) then you do so for the purpose of extending your political influence to a larger area. Our voting laws should do away with this allowance. A person should be allowed to contest in only one seat. The existing allowance is just so ludicrous!

Here is the newsreport that I talked about above on the Chidambaram issue:

Chidambaram elected from Sivaganga after sea-saw battle
Sat, May 16 08:51 PM
Karaikudi, May 16 (PTI) Union Home Minister P Chidambaram was today declared elected from Sivaganga Lok Sabha constituency, defeating AIADMK's Raja Kannappan by a slender 3,354 vote margin after a see-saw battle that went to wires. Chidambaram secured 3,34,348 votes while Kannappan got 3,30,994 votes, according to the official sources.
Earlier, confusion prevailed as election officials delayed the declaration of result. The delay was due to a dispute in the counting of votes.
Officials had announced the leads through the public address system after each round of counting and Kannappan was ahead by a margin, which ranged from 673 to about 3,825 votes. There was confusion when the final round was being counted with Chidambaram demanding re-tally after officials announced that Kanappan had won with a margin of over 3,000 votes.
Poll officials contacted their counterparts in Chennai and Delhi after the AIADMK candidate demanded a recount. As uncertainty persisted, AIADMK men gathered in front of the counting centre and shouted slogans against the delay in the declaration of result.
Congressmen countered them shouting slogans in support of Chidambaram. Meanwhile, an AIADMK delegation led by party Headquarters Secretary K A Sengottiyan met state Chief Electoral Officer and alleged that "pressure was exerted on the Returning Officer of Sivaganga.
" The delegation claimed that Chidambaram had lost.

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