AP post poll violence poses grim challenge to ECI

AP post poll violence poses grim challenge to ECI

AP is also perhaps the only state where there are intelligence reports that there could be violence on the day of counting or after the counting was over. This has made the ECI to rush additional 20 companies of central forces which would remain in the state for 10 days after the counting was over. People are keeping their fingers crossed. In short, the state has thrown a major challenge to the ECI.

When the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh explaining why people should vote for YSRCP said that a vote for his party would help in making the state a role model for the country, it sounded music to ears. It is always nice to see a Telugu state becoming a role model for the country. But the post election scenario causes worry because no one expected that Andhra Pradesh would become a role model for the country in post poll violence.

The Lok Sabha elections 2024 are being held in seven phases from April 19 across the country and the results will be announced on June 4. The polling has been peaceful and there were no instances of re-polling anywhere and all the contestants are waiting with baited breath for the results to be announced.

But Andhra Pradesh stood out as standalone state in the country because it is the only state where elections to the State Assembly and Lok Sabha were held and the only state where different forms of dance of democracy was seen.

It attained notoriety as the only state to witness violence towards evening of May13 the day of polling in certain parts of the state like Palnadu, Anantapur and Tirupati. All leaders were ordered to be put under house arrest but interestingly Macherla MLA P Ramakrishna Reddy escaped from the house.

The situation was such that it took almost three days for normalcy to be restored and that too after the Election Commission of India took serious note of the incidents and summoned the DGP and Chief Secretary to New Delhi. Again this was the only state who’s DGP and CS had to be summoned.

There was some quick action. Some SPs were transferred some suspended. There were allegations that the lower level police officials did not cooperate with the SPs who were appointed few days before the polls. Andhra Pradesh presented a clear case of failure of the administration at all levels.

Ten days later, a video in which Ramakrishna Reddy was seen destroying the EVM and VPAT machine and the Chief Electoral Officer sent a report to the ECI which ordered the arrest of the MLA. There were several twists and turns and the police despite all technological advances failed to nab him even 48 hours after the ECI orders. Finally he approached the High Court and got anticipatory bail till June 6.

AP is also perhaps the only state where there are intelligence reports that there could be violence on the day of counting or after the counting was over. This has made the ECI to rush additional 20 companies of central forces which would remain in the state for 10 days after the counting was over.

People are keeping their fingers crossed. In short, the state has thrown a major challenge to the ECI. AP has become a ground for experiment to know how orders of a Constitutional body can be violated.

The manner in which the polls were conducted in AP challenging the authority of ECI should become a case study for the Union Government. In this case, the centre cannot say that law and order is a state subject. The trillion dollar question is, will the Modi 3.0 regime study where the state administration had failed and bring in reforms and changes in the ECI manual and make the Constitutional body really powerful and effective.

This would be biggest gift of Modi 3.0 to the country’s democracy. One also hopes that all those including Rahul Gandhi who have been holding a copy of the Constitution in their hands claiming that they are the protectors of democracy play a positive role and cooperate with the government in ensuring that the democracy was really protected.

Once results are out and the new government is in place, Congress and other party leaders should put an end to rhetoric and focus attention on strengthening the constitutional bodies. The aim of electoral reforms should be to ensure that state administration strictly works as per the guidance of the ECI and the officials working under its supervision do not become subservient to the state executive. AP had virtually challenged the authority of ECI this time. This is something the centre needs to look at and take corrective measures.

The opposition INDI bloc while claiming to be protectors of democracy seem to have gone astray and proved that for them alliances are important to come out of cases allegedly foisted on them by NDA rather than moral values. We have heard Delhi CM Kejriwal say, that cases against him would be quashed day after the alliance government comes to power.

These elections have proved that the threat to democracy is more from political parties. If some political parties do not respect systems and want to subvert and if the centre and other national parties remain mute spectators, certainly Democracy would be in danger.

Let us again take the example of Andhra Pradesh. During campaign we have seen party chiefs saying, “the contesting candidate is a gentleman. He is my friend, if voted to power he would get better position.” But then on the day of polling the same “good people,” indulge in destruction of the EVMS.

What’s more, despite EC installing CCTVs and setting up a central control room to monitor the poll process, the incident of EVM getting destroyed was not made public for ten days. When the video went viral, the YSRCP raised doubts over its authenticity and CEO simply said that it was not released by EC. But then the basic question here is did the incident take place or not. The CEO confirmed that it did take place. Then why was it not made public? Interestingly, the FIR says some unknown persons destroyed the EVMs.

Well this is shocking. The basic question is how can unknown persons enter the polling station? What was the security staff deployed there doing? Why they were not apprehended? Does it mean that the security arrangements by EC were so weak? CCTV cameras were installed in all polling booths. Then the CEO should know who destroyed the EVM. How could he accept the FIR saying some unknown persons attacked? There was also an incident of an MLA attacking a voter standing in queue. His only crime was to tell the MLA that he too should stand in the queue. But no visible action against the MLA has been taken.

AP also has become the first and perhaps the only state where some officials had reportedly written to the ECI to exempt them from counting duties on June 4 as they were not able to bear the pressure from the ruling party.

Such a situation is not found in any other state, not even in UP and Bihar where once gun culture used to rule the roost. Hence the poll process in Andhra Pradesh makes a perfect case study for the political parties and political scientists.

On the moral side, leaders should have the spine to call a spade a spade. In Delhi, a Rajya Sabha MP of AAP was allegedly attacked by the private secretary of the Chief Minister in the house of Kejriwal. None of the INDI bloc leaders condemned the attack but gave lectures saying it was orchestrated by BJP.

For argument sake lets agree that the MP was sent by BJP. But then the main question is was she manhandled or not? Why are alliance partners defending the CM and say incident might have taken place. They don’t trust the medical reports which say that the MP was beaten and allege that it was doctored.

A reporter and a cameraman of a national news channel are attacked in the party headquarters of AAP by so called media coordinator but the bloc INDI leaders do not condemn it. Still they claim they are saviours of democracy and want the people to believe them and vote for them.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in all his interviews which he gave during elections, a rare event once in five years said, “Modi 3.0 regime will take some major decisions”. The citizens hope that strengthening EC will be the very first area on which he would focus his attention.

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