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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Election watch - Campaign, Candidate, Commandering ...

First a Q for Insurers on this election related post…  [General insurance is all about Motor these days !!!] do you know what GR 38 is ?

Goldman Sachs is again at it. The global financial services company, also infamous for a few missed predictions, has poured more oil into the raging debate on Gujarat model in India. A new report from the brokerage house has done a comparative study between Gujarat and West Bengal's labour policies, favouring the former. According to the report, the state, where BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi has been chief minister for three times, has managed a 60 percent growth in manufacturing between 2000 and 2012 thanks to its pro-employer policies. West Bengal, meanwhile, has seen only a 22 percent growth due to its pro-labour policies.

Almost 3 decades ago, I was part of a small group that strategized and managed the poll campaign of an independent candidate …. Electioneering was far different those days – the group drew the symbol on roads and on walls – went on door to door campaign, engaged auto-rickshaws fitted with mikes announcing the coming of candidate seeking votes, went to polling booths collecting data, and lastly represented the candidate at the time of counting of votes, which was a manual process.  Speaking from the propaganda van is also an art. Those days political parties would organize – bi-cycle rallies canvassing …. Those days candidates would either change their name or provide their full name to get some advantage as the polling sheet would have names in alphabetical order. 

Now in the Electronic Voting Machines (EVM)  - the order in which the name of a candidate/party appears on the balloting unit depends on the order of filing of nominations and validity of the candidature. EVMs can cater to a maximum of 64 candidates. There is provision for 16 candidates in a Balloting Unit. If the total number of candidates exceeds 16, a second Balloting Unit can be linked parallel to the first Balloting Unit; so on there can 4 and it can cater to a maximum of 64 candidates. There are reports that Congress heavyweight Ajit Jogi, might be planning a comedy of errors to romp home in Mahasamund Lok Sabha constituency. To unseat sitting BJP MP Chandulal Sahu, at least 10 independent candidates with sobriquet of ‘Sahu’ have filed their nomination from the seat. A rattled BJP is calling it sabotage tactics by Congress.     At least six among 38 contestants in fray have identical names of the BJP nominee and four others had similar sounding names. On the last day of filing nomination papers, cell phones of most namesake candidates remained switched off, triggering speculation these were dummy candidates who deliberately went missing.

Back home in Tamilnadu, the man who spearheaded the protests against the Govt in Kudankulam and who went hiding many a times, is contesting as AAP candidate.  He has reportedly  shown assets owned by him and his wife as worth 5.23 crore. The disclosure is bound to raise eyebrows given the allegations of foreign funding that were made against some of the NGOs which backed the struggle. Udayakumar, who has more than 300 cases against him under various sections of the IPC, filed his nomination for Kanyakumari constituency on Saturday amid apprehensions among supporters about his possible arrest. He has been holed up in Idinthakarai, a village close to the nuclear plant, where he spearheaded the protest, and faces restrictions imposed by the district administration on his movement. Udayakumar’s associates and fellow anti-nuclear activists M Pushparayan and M Jesuraj have also filed their nominations.  Jesuraj, a Catholic priest, has disclosed assets worth 5.20 lakh in the form of agricultural land and bank accounts.  One might recall that some of the NGOs run by activists were barred from collecting foreign aid.

A day after disowning Imran Masood’s “hack Modi to pieces” speech, Congress went to the EC saying the remarks were still to be verified while having been made well before the Model Code of Conduct came into force.  The statements of  Congress’s legal cell chief K C Mittal give an impression that Congress is not distancing themselves, though  Rahul Gandhi delivered a rebuke as did the Congress by saying it was not the language approved by the party.     Standing by him – evident in how Rahul went ahead with his rally in Saharanpur despite Masood’s arrest and shared the dais with his wife.  

Her name would give you a feeling that she is a candidate in Madurai or Chidambaram…. But she is contesting from Mandsaur, in Madhyapradesh, which was earlier part of princely state of Gwalior. Amidst the din, it is her silence which has got her in news. Meenakshi, who is contesting from Mandsaur, did not speak a word on her campaign trail on Saturday.  It is stated that Meenakshi observes maun vrat (ritual of silence) on Saturdays and prefers listening to people, instead of talking. And she does not disappoint her constituency. Armed with a notepad, she interacted with people through written replies during her campaign in Neemuch district.

Moving away from the candidates, SUV owners are apprehensive of their vehicles being snared by Election Officials, for they come in handy transporting personnel and machinery. Taxi operators, bus and truck owners live in trepidation during these times, for many have endured the trauma of their vehicles being requisitioned and returned as mere shells on worn-out wheels. If poll authorities requisition a car, the owner — government department or taxi operator — has no right of refusal. It is stated that vehicles in thousands are requisitioned or hired…..

On earlier days of the All India Motor Tariff,  - ‘confiscation, commandeering, requisition, detention, embargo, quarantine, or any result of any order of public or government authority’,  was an exclusion under the Motor Comprehensive Policy.

In the present AIMT - GR.38. is ‘Vehicles requisitioned by Government’ – which states ‘Vehicles requisitioned by the Government are automatically held covered during the period of  requisition without any additional premium.  In the event of a loss/ damage occurring during the period of such requisition, the insurer shall  pay losses / liabilities if any, in excess of  the amount(s) made good by the Government.’

Do you know the political parties and the name(s) of candidates of your constituency ……. My area Triplicane was part of Madras (South) which had elected TT Krishnamachari, R Venkataraman, Vaijayanthamala Bali, TR Balu…. Now after delimitation – it is Chepauk-Thiruvallikkeni and falls under Chennai Central.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

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