Mainstream, VOL LII, No 20, May 10, 2014
In the Grip of Fear and Uncertainty
Monday 12 May 2014, by
The nine-phase elections for the 16th Lok Sabha are drawing to a close.
In the penultimate phase, that took place yesterday, 64 seats spread over seven States went to polls, and the percentage of voting was almost 64. West Bengal (where voting for six seats took place) recorded the highest turnout (81.28 per cent) followed by Andhra Pradesh (76.01 per cent for 25 seats). As of now, polling has taken place for as many as 502 Lok Sabha seats since the start of the elections and registered 66.27 per cent voter turnout—an improvment on the turnout for the same seats in 2009 (which was 57.94 per cent).
The country has a total electorate of 81.45 crores. Out of these voters, 50.66 crores have exercised their franchise in 502 constituencies that went to polls till date—much higher than the 41 crores who voted in all the 543 seats in 2009.
While this celebration of democracy needs to be highlighted as one of the few positive features India can justifiably boast of, there have been certain aspects of the poll process that cannot possibly be brushed under the carpet. Allegations of rigging have come from several booths across quite a few States. At the same time names of countless citizens, including a host of celebrated personalities, have gone missing from voters’ lists in the Mumbai metropolis—a strage development that must be rectified at the earliest.
Of late the principal Opposition party at the Centre, now seeking to seize power with its alliance partners constituting the NDA, has assailed the Election Commission for not taking cognisance of the aformentioned allegations and disallowing its prime ministerial candidate from holding a public rally in Varanasi, the constituency from where he is contesting.
However, close scrutiny reveals that permission was eventually granted to hold such a rally though it was delayed due to security reasons. The security reasons included apprehensions of breakdown of law and order and communal harmony. Thus the attacks on the EC and local authorities appear to be politically motivated with the party (BJP) and its PM aspirant (Narendra Modi) keen on exploiting every possible opportunity to reap political divi-dends.
Nevertheless, the overriding concern among large sections of the public is: what kind of dispen-sation would a Modi-led government offer the country? Modi and his colleagues have promised the moon to the electorate to garner votes. But in effect wide segments of our populace, among them minorities and the weaker sections in particular, are in the grip of fear and uncertainty That is the umistakable reality before the final phase of voting early next week.
May 8 S.C.