Category: Opinion

Lok Sabha polls 2019: As countdown begins for D-day this is how political leaders prepping up

 

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An EVM and politicians complaining against the device

As the result day (May 23) of Lok Sabha Elections 2019 is nearing, political parties, some of whom had bitterly fought with one another, are coalescing into two major groups. But the behaviour of the two groups looks like an essay in contrast. While the first group is rallying around one figure, the second appears all over with no central point. Similarly, the first exudes confidence and (reportedly) is deliberating on action plans in the immediate aftermath of the results, the second comes out as jittery and frustrated, afraid of facing the results.

The optics presented by these two groups post the Exit Polls tell it all. The members of outgoing Union Ministry sit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in an informal meeting at the BJP head quarters in Delhi. And all the key leaders of NDA alliance dine with BJP president Amit Shah.

On the other hand, leaders of 21 Opposition parties approach the Election Commission with complaints on Electronic Voting Machine. They continue to cast aspersion on the device, and appear determined to reject the outcome it throws up, if it goes against them. Apparently, no amount of explanation can satisfy them. After suspecting EVM hacking and tampering, now their grouse seems to be around some “conspiracy theory” about EVM swapping.

Not that they are not aware that such things cannot happen. When the EC had thrown an open challenge to hack or tamper EVM, none came forward. And every party knows that swapping of machine is impossible as they are sealed and opened in the presence of the party agents, which gets video-graphed. However, these parties seem to be using EVM for ulterior motives. May be they are creating doubts about the legitimacy of the poll process in common people. May be they are preparing the ground to disrupt and create chaos during counting. May be they hope to edge out EVM with their complaints and see the return of ballot papers, which are easier to manipulate with rigging and booth capturing.

The irony is sections of media too contributing to muddy the water over EVM as shown by the following tweet.

In fact, a neta from Bihar, Upendra Kushwaha has actually warned of bloodshed on the street. He called upon the workers of Bihar Grand alliance (comprising the Congress, RJD, RSLP and HAM) to take up arms if EVM are found tampered.

Fortunately, barring West Bengal, polling was by and large peaceful through stretched over 38 days unlike in the era of ballot paper. Will peace prevail on the counting day as well?

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CJI Gogoi case: Mystery deepens over ex-SC staffer’s boycott of inquiry

 

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Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Chief Justice of India

As the former woman employee of the Supreme Court, who has accused Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi of sexual misconduct, walked out of the in-house inquiry, more clarity on the forces, pulling the strings behind the complainant seems to be emerging.

Apart from pleading on hearing impairment, health condition, fear and nervousness without her lawyer before the inquiry panel, etc., the complainant has listed four main reasons for her decision, which are reproduced below:

  • I have not been allowed to have the presence of my lawyer/support person despite my impaired hearing, nervousness and fear
  • There being no video or audio recording of the Committee proceedings
  • I have not been supplied even a copy of my statement as recorded on 26th and 29th April 2019
  • I was not informed about the procedure this committee is following.

But the truth may be hidden elsewhere in her long press release, some excerpts from which are given below:

“…..on 26th April 2019, the Judges in the committee told me that this was neither an in-house committee proceeding, nor a proceeding under the Vishakha Guidelines and that it was an informal proceeding….

“I was orally instructed that I should not disclose the proceedings of the committee to the media and was to not even share the proceedings with my lawyer Advocate Vrinda Grover….

“In the hearing that followed on the 29th April, I was again not allowed to have a lawyer/support person present with me. I was repeatedly asked by the committee as to why I had made this complaint of sexual harassment so late. I found the atmosphere of the committee very frightening and I was very nervous because of being confronted and questioned by three Supreme Court Judges and without even the presence of my lawyer/support person.

“… I went for the hearing on the 30th April with a written letter where I once again explained why I made my complaint of sexual harassment after several months…

“I was told that there were certain questions on facts that they wanted me to answer. I declined to participate any further in the absence of my lawyer/support person. The committee also asked me if I wanted to present any witnesses. I informed them that almost all the witnesses are working in the Supreme Court of India and there is no likelihood of them being able to depose fearlessly before the committee….

“I have not been informed if the committee has sought any response from the CJI to my complaint and I have been left guessing and anxious on all these matters….”

This is the version of the complainant about the hearing. But nobody knows what really transpired there as the other side is not yet revealed.

Apparently, those who are pulling the strings are realizing that the case won’t go their way with an in-house inquiry (and the CJI is still on the high chair). Times of India quoted the complainant as saying “Please don’t forget that I belong to the Scheduled Caste and therefore challenges to achieve something in life is much more daunting” while putting forward her demands before the inquiry panel.

Certainly, the next move of the string pullers is something people would keenly watch for.