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Thursday, March 12, 2020

cases of electoral malpractice ! ~ purpose of being heard after 11 years !!

After 6 decades of Independence – how are the Indian elections held ? – are  the rich,  mighty and powerful still able to influence the results and pattern of voting ?

There was some  commotion at the counting centre for Sakkottai Panchayat Union in Sivaganga district, as two candidates who had contested for the post of Sankarapuram village panchayat president were awarded certificates. Two women candidates, Devi Mankudi and Priyadarshini Iyyappan, contested for the post reserved for woman (general), under autorickshaw and lock-and-key symbols respectively. Late on Thursday evening, Devi was declared the winner by scoring 67 votes more than the other candidate and was awarded the certificate of village panchayat president elect. However, as the opposite party demanded a recount, the counting was done again around 2 a.m. on Friday and subsequently Priyadarshini was declared the winner leading by 63 votes. She was also awarded a certificate.  .. .. ..  Sivaganga and election results controversy !!

Those following politics would well remember that the 15th Lok Sabha elections were held in 2009 and was later dissolved on 18.5.2014 by President Pranab Mukherjee.  Indian National Congress led United Progressive Alliance won 44 more seats than previous 14th  Lok Sabha.  Dr. Manmohan Singh took the oath as the 13th Prime Minister of India.  Over its five year term, the 15th Lok Sabha was disrupted frequently and witnessed a decline in time spent on legislation and oversight of the government.  Disruptions over the allocation of 2G spectrum, coal blocks, FDI in retail, demand for Telengana, and the Commonwealth Games were the highlights.  Mr P Chidambaram who had earlier been FM in 2004 was Home Minister from 2008.  In 2012 he returned to be the FM  succeeding Pranab Mukherjee, who demitted office to become the President of India.

As early as in the 18th century, the battle for a free India raged. In an act of courage and determination, women came out to fight for independence. Rani Velu Nachiyar,  queen of a province was perhaps the first  to fight against the British. She was the princess of Ramnad, and the daughter of Chellamuthu Sethupathy. She married the Raja of Sivaganga; when  her husband was killed, she was drawn into battle. In 1780 Rani Velu Nachiyar fought the British and won the battle.  By some accounts veeramangai Nachiyar was trained weaponry, martial arts like Valari, Silambam, horse riding and archery. She was proficient in many languages too.  She is also credited with arranging a suicide attack on an arms dump.

Her valour is part of folklore in Sivagangai Seemai  ( சிவகங்கை சீமை ). Sivaganga kingdom was founded by Sasivarna Periya Oodaya Thevar in 1730. The town was subsequently ruled by his successors and ultimately by Velu Nachiyar under the stewardship of Maruthu Pandiyar.   The town is known for agriculture, metal working and weaving. Sivaganga is administered by a municipality established in 1965. From here was elected P Chidambaram .. .. and after about 11 years of his election  from the Sivaganga parliamentary constituency, former Union minister P Chidambaram appeared before the Madras high court and categorically denied all allegations of electoral malpractice, including distribution on money to voters, during 2009 assembly election.

Most media reported that former finance minister P Chidambaram refuted allegations about cash distribution in a case pertaining to his election from Sivaganga Lok Sabha constituency in 2009. Chidambaram, Rajya Sabha MP, replied that distribution of money "are imaginary and there is no evidence at all." The veteran congress leader was cross-examined by counsel for the losing candidate Raja Kannappan who filed the petition challenging his election alleging that the congress leader was involved in distribution of cash for votes. Recording the two-hourlong examination, Justice Pushpa Sathyanarayana adjourned the plea to March 30 for final arguments.

During the examination, counsel for the petitioner K Rajendra Kumar and G Saravanan referred to a book titled ‘A View from the Outside’ authored by Chidambaram and published in 2008 in which he had said that ‘politics is a business’ and wondered whether the former minister considered distributing money to voters as an ‘investment’. Denying such inference, Chidambaram said his theory that politics is a business was made in a different context and that it was in no way connected to the alleged electoral malpractices.

Further denying various other allegations that his son Karti Chidambaram was caught red-handed while distributing money to voters in Sivaganga constituency and was later rescued by the local police at the instance of Chidambaram, the former minister said there was no evidence as such before the court to prove such allegations. All these allegations are imaginary and the election, including the counting, was conducted as per rules, Chidambaram said.

History has it that most of such allegations would go unproved and even those who had indulged in electoral malpractices go unscathed ~ the point is ‘what sort of justice’ would be served if hearings take place after 11 years and are there instances of mighty and powerful charged by Forums.

People know .. .. .. yet, next elections would be fought on the same grounds !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

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