Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Election dates of five states

On 24/12/2011 Election Commission comprising Chief Election Commissioner S. Y. Qureshi and Election Commissioners H. S. Brahma and V. S. Sampath announced election dates for Punjab, Uttarakhand, Manipur, Uttar Pradesh and Goa. In Uttar Pradesh polling is in seven phases in February 2012. In other states it is one day polling. Polling in Manipur is on 28/1/2012, in Punjab and Uttarakhand on 30/1/2012 and in Goa on 3/3/2012. Counting of votes is on 4/3/2012.

There was no need to club five elections together. In Uttar Pradesh polling should have been on a single day. Election Commission is for elections, elections are not for Election Commission. Terms of Legislative Assemblies expire at different dates in the five states and elections should have been held accordingly. Terms of Legislative Assemblies of Uttarakhand, Punjab, Manipur, Uttar Pradesh and Goa expire on 12/3/2012, 14/3/2012, 15/3/2012, 20/5/2012 and 14/6/2012 respectively. Voting should be one week before the expiry of the term. Counting of votes in Manipur, Punjab and Uttarakhand and should have been after the day of polling. Security guards have to guard EVMs for more than a month. These are state elections and people vote as they want irrespective of the results of other states. Those who think voters will be influenced by what happens in other states are wrong. There is no point in holding elections two or three months before the expiry of Assembly term.

Congress and TV channels knew beforehand that Election Commission will announce elections on 24/12/2011. On 22/12/2011 UPA government announced 4.5% minority quota for Muslims with 27% OBC quota. It is possible that somebody from Election Commission had leaked the information. Sometimes CECs and Election Commissioners have been partisan. In 1991 T. N. Seshan postponed elections for Punjab Lok Sabha constituencies by three months and three days to suit Congress. Navin Chawla’s predecessor did not want him to become CEC and had accused him of leaking information. Two former CECs joined political parties. One of them got elected to Rajya Sabha and was minister. It is a different matter whether granting of minority quota will benefit Congress. Some Muslim leaders said 4.5% was not enough. Pramod Verma, a Congress leader, resigned from the party in protest against 4.5% minority quota.

Mayawati did not want elections in February. Uttarakhand has cited extreme cold conditions in January and has asked for postponement of voting to last week of February. Election Commission should not ignore state governments while holding Assembly elections.

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