Team Anna demands for ‘right to reject’ option and barring candidates with charges framed on them is very important. But more important is the threat looming in 2014 general elections where in vulnerable and selective pockets elections will be stolen by fraudulent use of EVMs. Over last few years we have seen, 4000 EVMs sold as scrap in Vijayawada where an MP accurately predicted election outcome both in state and Center (see http://www.SaveIndianDemocracy.org ) in 2009 elections, dummy EVMs found by police in UP, Net India in Hyderabad got several offers to manipulate EVMs wholesale from various parties from as far as North East, several lawsuits challenging the EVM results. One would hope all this be taken as a pointer to the looming crisis in India’s electoral scene. One would hope that the fact that every respectable democracy has outright rejected EVMs. As Dr. Swamy pointed out, even Japan that manufactures the chips used in our EVMs do NOT use EVMs and use paper ballots, the country from which we borrowed our democracy, UK still uses paper ballot, German Supreme Court judges rejected them in one sitting. Here we are, pusillanimous High Courts, reluctant Supreme Court and an Election Commission that has not come to grips with the situation.
To be fair, Dr. Qureshi understood the concerns and has done a tremendous job in pushing for paper trail and conducted successful trials. However, all that excellent work seems to be thrown aside, perhaps under immense pressure from powers to be to make sure there are enough avenues in seizing the power at center in 2014 elections. In the end, what matters in India is power at the center and the continuous attempt to chip away the power of states, no matter what party they belong is driving India into making into a monrachical system.
Dr. Qureshi is expected to retire in few months and will there be same zeal and forward looking by the future election commissioners in ensuring free and fair elections. No matter how honest a Election Commissioner, if processes are weak, they will be manipulated and much more so in India than anywhere. It is unfortunate that for all practical purposes Dr. Qureshi seems to be subdued and has not shown the will to put his stamp and push for reforms.
This is the tragedy of this nation starting from even the Supreme Court. While there are many good meaning people, they are shy or even afraid to touch the powers to be and uphold what is in the best interest of the nation. Then there is concern about the self and the close family and this concern is extremely well manipulated by the power brokers. India is sorely short of leaders who come in the front and risk if necessary to take this wonderful country to the next level and reach its greatest potential. If only given that chance.
Coming back to Team Anna, I hope they recognize the real threat of EVMs to India’s elections and take that as the bigger issue.
Team Anna meets EC, demands electoral reforms
Anna Hazare and his team on Thursday met the Election Commission in a bid to raise the pitch for electoral reforms and demanded that the ‘right to reject’ option be included in electronic voting machines.
Hazare, along with his close associates Santosh Hegde, Prashant Bhushan, Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi [ Images ], discussed the matter for about an hour with Chief Election Commissioner S Y Qureshi.
According to Team Anna, the meeting was “very useful” and the Election Commission was “very receptive” to their ideas and demands.
Bedi said they raised the issue of inclusion of form 49(O), wherein a voter can say he does not want to vote for any of the candidates, use of totaliser in the counting and barring of candidates against whom courts have framed charges.
“The right to reject is an important issue. We have demanded that the option of Form 49(O) be included in the EVMs. We were told that there is no need for bringing the
issue in Parliament. The matter is pending with the law ministry since 2001. What is needed is a rule amendment. It just needs a notification,” said Bedi.
To contain criminalisation of politics, Team Anna suggested that candidates against whom a court has framed charges should be barred.
On using a ‘totaliser’ for counting, she said it will help in mixing all the votes of a constituency and thus no candidate will come to know which locality did not vote for him.
“We were also told that this issue is also pending,” she said.