Posts Tagged ‘Shivraj Singh Chouhan’
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.
Resort to violence for imposing its misconceived nationalist ideology is not something which the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) has recently acquired. It received nationwide attention only because its operations were taking place in the national capital.
So long as the BJP remained mostly out of power in the States and at the Centre, the ABVP kept its activities confined to demonstrations on college/university issues, by and large. As the BJP started gaining power in the States, the ABVP also started coming out of its veneer of an organisation concerned with the students’ problems. The BJP governments even placed the police force in the service of the rowdy ABVP activists.
The late Madhya Pradesh Governor Ram Naresh Yadav who, though a Congressman, had become virtually a lackey of the State’s BJP Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan to utter chagrin of the Congress leaders of the State. He had been willingly endorsing wrong actions and decisions of the BJP government. Even he had lost his patience with the ABVP in the State and was constrained to write a letter to the Chief Minister directing him to ‘keep a check on the anarchic ABVP activists as they are indulging in unlawful activities and polluting the academic atmosphere in the State.’ Did Chouhan heed the Governor’s advice? Nonsense!
Prof. H S Sabharwal of the Madhav College in Ujjain was asked to conduct the students’ union elections in August 2006. Following some irregularities, he cancelled the elections which infuriated the ABVP activists. Prof Sabharwal was thrashed by the activists and eventually he died.
Initially, the police arrested 22 persons, mostly belonging to the Congress, in connection with the rowdiness on the Madhav College campus. However, under public pressure (the attack on Prof. Sabharwal had made the national headlines), 12 students owing allegiance to ABVP were named accused in the murder. Ultimately, the challan under Sections 302 and 147 IPC was put up against six of them. They were: Shashi Ranjan Akela (State President of ABVP); Vimal Tomar (Divisional Organising Secretary, ABVP); Vishal Rajoria (member of State Executive, ABVP); Hemant Dube (District Convener, ABVP); Sudhir Yadav and Pankaj Mishra (activists of ABVP).
While the police ‘investigation’ in the murder was going on, the Chief Minister had a 20-minute one-to-one talk with Vimal Tomar, one of the six accused. Tomar, then in custody in Ujjain, was admitted to the State-run M Y Hospital at Indore purportedly for treatment. Chauhan met him there. Tomar was ‘cured’ immediately after meeting the Chief Minister and was sent back to the custody at Ujjain.
As the witnesses (even the policemen who were eye-witnesses) started turning hostile, the murdered Professor’s son Himanshu knocked on the doors of the Supreme Court which transferred the trial of the case from Ujjain to Nagpur. The judge there acquitted the accused on the ground that the prosecution had failed to put up the evidence.