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Posts Tagged ‘Mayawati

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity registered a sharp decline towards the close of 2018 — merely four and a half years after he had come to power with a bang. During the year he was surrounded by many unsavoury controversies. After the BJP’s drubbing in the Assembly elections in the five States of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana and Mizoram, he has become more and more incoherent and occasionally irritable in his public speeches. The election results show that he has ceased to be a vote-catcher; rather, he has become a liability for the BJP.
That the people voted decisively against the BJP in all the five States where elections were held in November-December was much too evident. In Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh the party could not retain its government in spite of spending a scandalous amount of money on the campaign. The BJP had fielded its candidates on almost all the seats in Telangana and Mizoram. BJP general secretary in charge of north-east Ram Madhav had announced much ahead of the polling day in Mizoram: “we are willing to forge an alliance with like-minded non-Congress parties after the elections.” But the BJP could win only one seat out of 39 it contested (Mizoram Assembly has 40 members), and its dream of ruling, directly or indirectly, the entire north-east was shattered. So was the case in Telangana where it was hopeful of an impressive electoral victory to dictate terms to Telangana’s ruling party Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) for an alliance for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The BJP could get only one seat in Telangana also.
According to an IndiaSpend analysis of electoral data, the BJP lost more than 70 per cent of the Assembly constituencies where Prime Minister Narendra Modi campaigned in the five States. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath fared slightly better than Modi, with a winning percentage of 39 as against Modi’s less than 30.
Even though Prime Minister Modi’s two major “achievements” did not figure prominently in the high-pitched campaigns, these two seemed to have considerably influenced the mind of the voters, particularly in the three Hindi heartland States of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. The scars created by the demonetisation on the middle and lower classes have not healed so far. Similarly, the GST continues to be a sore point with the middle rung traders. The party leaders in the three States were apparently aware of this because the party in the three States did not seek the vote in the name of Narendra Modi but in the names of their chief ministers, Vasundhara Raje in Rajasthan, Shivraj Singh Chouhan in Madhya Pradesh and Raman Singh in Chhattisgarh. In the full page newspaper advertisements also, the photos of the chief ministers were displayed prominently while a small photo of Narendra Modi was tucked behind the chief minister of the State.
The people just wanted to oust the BJP in the three States though they did not repose full confidence in the Congress, except in Chhattisgarh where it won 68 seats in a House of 90. The BJP got only 15 seats. Former Congress Chief Minister Ajit Jogi had formed his own party Janta Congress Chhattisgarh (JCC). He had entered into an alliance with Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in the hope of emerging as an alternative to the BJP and the Congress but the alliance could get only 7 seats — JCC 5 and BSP 2.
In both Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, the Congress failed to get the clear majority. In Madhya Pradesh, its tally stopped at 114 seats in a House of 230. The BJP won in 109 constituencies. As many as 120 parties were in the fray in Madhya Pradesh. Only two of them could taste victory: Bahujan Samaj Party got two seats and Samajwadi Party was able to win one seat. Four independents also got through. These seven members lent their support to the Congress, raising the strength of the alliance to 121 and, thus, allowing the Congress to form the government. It was ironic that BJP received slightly more votes in Madhya Pradesh than the Congress but the Congress got more seats. The BJP received 41 per cent (1, 56, 42,980 votes) of the total votes cast while the share of the Congress was 40.9 per cent (1, 55, 95,153 votes). Besides, in as many as 22 constituencies, the votes cast for NOTA (none of the above) exceeded the victory margins of the winning candidates. In Rajasthan, too, the Congress reached near-majority point, getting 99 seats in a House of 200. The election for one constituency was countermanded following the death of a BSP candidate.

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The BJP swept the February-March, 2017 Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. The instant reaction of BSP supremo Mayawati to her party’s miserable performance  in Uttar Pradesh was that Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) were manipulated. Soon the Samajwadi Party and AAP leaders joined Mayawati’s outcry. Even some Congress leaders in Uttarakhand also started talking about EVM manipulation. Meanwhile, a discussion on the fragmentation of non-BJP votes in Uttar Pradesh had also started (the BJP got so many seats with a vote share of less than 40 per cent while the combined vote share of BSP and SP was over 44 per cent plus six per cent of the Congress share).

The subject of EVM manipulation has been cropping up almost from the time EVMs were introduced.  A sort of campaign on this issue was launched by then Madhya Pradesh Congress President Suresh Pachouri after the 2008 Assembly elections which had returned BJP’s Shivraj Singh Chouhan for the second term. A distraught Pachouri had threatened to expose EVM manipulations with the help of his “friends in the UK and the US”.

Before Pachouri could carry out his threat, Lal Krishna Advani jumped in the fray after the BJP lost the 2009 Lok Sabha elections and his dream of becoming the Prime Minister was shattered. He demanded discontinuation of EVMs and going back to the printed ballot papers. Advani’s demand was supported by the leaders of various parties like the AIADMK, CPI (M), Janata Dal (S) and the Lok Janshakti Party. Advani had the support of a bureaucrat also. Former Delhi chief secretary Omesh Saigal had surfaced to claim that he knew a secret code in the EVM, through which the machine could be programmed to transfer every fifth vote to a particular candidate. Petitions were filed in courts on the fallibility of EVMs, one of the most vocal petitioners being BJP’s Kirit Somaiya.

There was so much noise in the country that the Election Commission felt it had to do something. In August 2009, the Commission randomly obtained 100 EVMs from 10 States (Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh). The Commission invited political leaders, petitioners and other critics of EVMs and also made the media announcement that the EVMs would be kept in the Commission office for a specified period and anyone could come and show how these machines could be manipulated. No one did. The EVM bogey, though, has one merit. It keeps occupied the politicians who have been defeated in the elections and have nothing else to do at the moment.

 


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No liberty, peace or justice!

When there are too many policemen, there can be no liberty;
When there are too many soldiers, there can be no peace;
When there are too many lawyers, there can be no justice.
— Lin Yutang

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