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Updated: June 9, 2012 02:29 IST

A controversy from Day One that refuses to die

Special Correspondent
Comment (28)   ·   print   ·   T  T  
P. Chidambaram.
PTI P. Chidambaram.

The election of P. Chidambaram from the Sivaganga Lok Sabha constituency in the 2009 general election was contentious and controversial for more than one reason.

Late in the night of May 16, 2009, Mr. Chidambaram was declared winner by a margin of 3,354 votes after 21 rounds of counting. But not before dramatic events at the counting centre in Sivaganga. Well before the official declaration of the results, television channels and a news agency had reported that the Union Home Minister had lost. Indeed, supporters of the AIADMK candidate, R.S. Raja Kannappan, had celebrated victory outside the counting centre by bursting firecrackers and distributing sweets. Mr. Raja Kannappan actually went to the room of the Returning Officer to receive his election certificate, only to be told that the counting had not officially ended.

Pace not uniform

The confusion was real. The pace of counting was not uniform at the different tables. Some tables were ahead of the others by a couple of rounds. Thus, while the counting process was still on at some tables, some other tables had completed the process, allowing election agents to come out and announce the end of the process. Mr. Kannappan was actually in the lead when this happened, and AIADMK workers assumed that he had won.

In the age of the Electronic Voting Machines, the counting is again back to being held segment-wise. That is, votes in one Assembly segment of a Lok Sabha constituency will be completed before that of another Assembly segment is taken up. This meant that the leads during counting could change dramatically from one round to another, depending on which Assembly segment is taken up for counting. Especially in a close election, as 2009 was in Tamil Nadu, the votes of a candidate are fragmented geographically: different areas vote differently, whether out of caste or other socio-economic considerations.

During the time T.N. Seshan was the Chief Election Commissioner, the practice of opening ballot boxes and mixing ballot papers was undertaken as a method of preventing political parties from identifying how particular polling booths or geographical areas voted. This was envisaged as a protection to villages that voted en masse against a powerful party. But with the introduction of EVMs, this practice was given up, and the chances of a dramatic change in the lead position increased manifold.

This is what happened in Sivaganga in 2009. Mr. Kannappan built up a good lead in the early rounds and retained it through the 14th round. With the Alangudi Assembly segment coming into the reckoning from the 15th round, Mr. Chidambaram established a lead of 5,761 votes. In the 16th round, he increased the margin again to 5,838. In the subsequent rounds, Mr. Kannappan made a comeback, but he could not completely wipe out the lead Mr. Chidambaram had run up in rounds 15 and 16.

This, coupled with the uneven pace of counting at different tables, gave the impression that the late rally of Mr. Chidambaram was because of external help.

The ally of Mr. Chidambaram's Congress, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, was in power in Tamil Nadu at the time, leading to speculation that the counting process was subverted.

The Election Commission, through the Chief Electoral Officer at the time, Naresh Gupta, looked into the complaints of manipulation of the counting process. The telephone records of the Returning Officer were also examined, but other than a call from the Chief Minister's Office, there was nothing that aroused suspicion. That too was probed and dismissed, EC officials said. But Mr. Kannappan remained convinced that he had been cheated out of the seat and went to court. On Thursday, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court decided the case be properly heard.

Whatever the outcome, one positive fall-out of the confusion in Sivaganga was the directive from the Election Commission for the 2011 Assembly election that the counting for one round would have to be completed before the counting for the next is taken up. The results of each round would be clear before the counting for the subsequent round is to begin. There would be no random announcements from each table. The leads would be tabulated round-wise alone, and not table-wise.

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i fail to understand after the reading the article as what makes it
biased... just qouting some facts does not make any article biased..

from:  Vikas P
Posted on: Jun 9, 2012 at 21:24 IST

Very pleased to see how most of the readers here have been able to see through this
fallacious and farcical article. The 'special correspondent' makes a mockery of our intellect.

The writer's intent seems to be to reduce the dispute to be one of mere logistical
mismanagement. while in reality it seems to be a case of violation of law.


from:  Swarna
Posted on: Jun 9, 2012 at 19:38 IST

Hi S.Srinivasan,
I need to correct you. There are no recounting at all. There was only one count on that day. The delay was because AIADMK supporters would not allow the returning officer to officially announce the results.

from:  Pon Jagannath
Posted on: Jun 9, 2012 at 17:57 IST

Majority of the readers are neither convinced nor okay with this article. My kudos to them for their fair judgement. Many important incidents(like the recounting) that happened on the poll day seems to be purposefully not mentioned in this article. Very cunningly written article to give a make belief of being unbiased, but actually a pro-Chidambaram/Congress/UPA one. Again a kudos to the readers of this article for blackening the face of the author('special correspondent') and literally tearing of the so called neutral mask of this article. I think the editor of Hindu should be more vigilant before approving such deceivingly biased article.

from:  Raj
Posted on: Jun 9, 2012 at 15:54 IST

.. An ordinary employee of any Government Department is suspended once an inquiry starts over any allegation against him especially if it were to be of criminal nature. Then the same applies to Sri. P.Chidambaram too who wields an important ministry dealing with Internal Security of the country. It is essential that he steps down till he is cleared by the court.In all essential matters relating to Tamils & TN [especially when TN & Tamils are being wronged by the Center],PC doesn't enact like Mamata [ concerning her state ] . In fact it seems that there is undercurrent animosity against PC in Congress itself .Therefore Tamils need not go in support of PC.

from:  Prof.R.Krishnamurthy
Posted on: Jun 9, 2012 at 15:41 IST

what is the need for a call from CM's Office to Returning Officer ?

from:  rajdeep
Posted on: Jun 9, 2012 at 13:58 IST

This is one of the very few items in The Hindu which will prompt readers to think if this is 'Paid News'. How did this go through editorial screening without noticing the inherent bias? I thought The Hindu was ahead of Times! and now this news item confirms 'it might well be'

from:  Ajay
Posted on: Jun 9, 2012 at 13:51 IST

The two allegations on malpractices were rejected. The person being occupant of high position in the Government, the Court may take up the matter and pronounce the judgement at the earliest.

from:  geekay
Posted on: Jun 9, 2012 at 13:43 IST

May be the Hindu may be having bias with congress and DMK due to thier bad expereince with amma. Anyway If he is won, why didn't they announce the results till 8.30pm. Did they take so much time to obey the orders of congress high command and manipulate the EVM??

from:  sasikumar K
Posted on: Jun 9, 2012 at 13:42 IST

After the recent verdict,the focus is on the Sivaganga election.I carefully went through your report. At least some facts are missing in the report. 1 There is no mention of recounting. 2 After counting and recounting,there was considerable delay in declaring the result. 3 The letter to the successful candidate was not delivered in an unusually 'secret' manner. I appeal to you to ensure that only full reports are published.The readers are unhappy that the report on a sensitive matter was not prepared with due care and diligence.

from:  S.Srinivasan
Posted on: Jun 9, 2012 at 13:13 IST

true to hindu style the article is the defence council of chidambaram only the petitioner and the courts are made to look like people who do not know about the counting process. fine article by the spokesman of the congress party. shame on a national news paper truly ahead of the times

from:  vinod puthanpura
Posted on: Jun 9, 2012 at 13:06 IST

It is interesting to see that the same article is being labelled as pro-Chidambaram and anti-Chidambaam. Having gone through the comments I read the article once again and failed to see any kind of bias. In fact, the article simply states facts that there was confusion and that Mr. Kannappan (due to various reasons) felt that there was some wrong-doing. I fail to see any effort by the author to discredit Mr. Chidambaram or to suggest that the impression that Mr. Kannappan has formed is incorrect.

from:  Gaurav
Posted on: Jun 9, 2012 at 12:48 IST

Even so, the fact that Mr. Chidambaram was a central cabinet minister then and is holding crucial home portfolio now makes independence of this article totally unconvincing. To enhance his own credibility in public life, it is just right for him to resign first, hold no post in the party from which any influence may be exercised even remotely. The issue should have been settled by now since most of the evidence is documentary. Sad for indian politics and worse for the confidence of common man in the rule of law and fairplay in judiciary functioning.

from:  Adwit
Posted on: Jun 9, 2012 at 12:37 IST

This is not an article but a judgement. Is this expected from a newspaper.

from:  mohit
Posted on: Jun 9, 2012 at 12:32 IST

Mr. Ganesh You seem to be an admirer of UPA government. Cases remain subjudice for decades Even if the sentences are pronounced These are not served on the convicts. Lalu , the leader of JMM Sibu Soren , Mulayam Singh, Mayavati & scores of political leaders always remain away from the clutches of law.The law does never take its own course. The course of the law is directed by the rulers at centre /state.If the case is subjudice a public servant can not remain in service but political leaders though they are also public servant do not follow the suit.

from:  ASHOK KUMAR GUPTA
Posted on: Jun 9, 2012 at 12:31 IST

The very day of the 2009 Lok Sabha election results were declared one of my friend called me over phone from Tirupattur of Sivaganga constituency and told me that Mr,Rajakannappan has been cheated by the election officials on duty by declaring Mr,Chidambaram as winner,my friend is a staunch supporter of AIADMK.I heard him very patiently and convinced him that it was not possible to declare the results according to the choices of some body,as it involves lot of polling officials service matters and no polling official will do any mischief while on election duty. I my self involved in lot of elections as a election official in my 38 yr long Central govt service and there is absolutely no chance to declare a losing candidate as a winning candidate. The writer of this article is to be appreciated for his detailed briefing of the happenings before the result of the Sivaganga Parliamentary was announced. And the HINDU has not done any harm in publishing this article with out any bias.

from:  V.Shanmuganathan
Posted on: Jun 9, 2012 at 11:57 IST

Shame on our Indian electoral and judicial system...

from:  Santhosh A
Posted on: Jun 9, 2012 at 11:54 IST

Completely partisan views in the garb of 'Special Correspondent'. I expect better from The Hindu.

from:  Aditya Kapoor
Posted on: Jun 9, 2012 at 11:55 IST

But, one thing is for sure that Chidambaram's term will end before court pronounce its verdict....I agree with this!

from:  KJRamesh
Posted on: Jun 9, 2012 at 11:53 IST

When there is doubt about the result of a candidate and now the court has now taken the trial ,it is but proper for MR.chidambaran to step down and face the court through his lawyer and then come back successful once the court verdict is finalised.this is only chance. let him not influence the result of the court through his present position as Home Minister.

from:  vaoidya
Posted on: Jun 9, 2012 at 11:39 IST

unless our court find quick process of hearing and judgement, chidambaram like politician will be in the cabinet and in parliament for ever.

from:  sidharthan thalappilly
Posted on: Jun 9, 2012 at 11:16 IST

The article or news report appears to have been written either by Mr.Chidambaram himself or by an agent of his.There was no need to give space to such news item when the Madras High Court has ordered that the case was worth a trial. I have been reader of your paper for almost five decades and tt is really painful to find THE HINDU stooping to such an abysmal level.

from:  S.Sarangan
Posted on: Jun 9, 2012 at 10:37 IST

This is a very silly article. Hindu's writing standard have dropped
alarmingly. One candidate celebrated too early before final results
were known. So what? That is Chidam's fault? Where does it show that
Chidam was not really elected? He was elected albeit a small margin of
victory. You are just trying to fill up space with nonsense and deflect
attention. Shame on you, Hindu.

from:  Raj Subramanian
Posted on: Jun 9, 2012 at 06:45 IST

To be more clear, please provide the following details:

Total eligible voters in Sivagangai during 2009 election,
Number of contestants in the electoral field,
Per centage of votes cast,
Contestant-wise number of votes polled.

This will give an idea to the public to analyse the various reports published from time to time.

from:  Gnanam
Posted on: Jun 9, 2012 at 05:59 IST

The correspondent has taken an assumption that there was a fair counting and has laid out facts based on flimsy incidents. The article is blatant in its pro-chidambaram views. Losing trust in Hindu's non-partisan approach and views.
Thanks
Ajay Kumar

from:  K S Ajay Kumar
Posted on: Jun 9, 2012 at 05:51 IST

I remember following the election results that day, and it was quite obvious that he cheated (I am a neutral person). He just appealed for recounting, and then was announced as winner. I mean, how would they make such a mistake in counting in the first instance? That beside the point, I was actually surprised that the people of Sivaganga did not vote for an efficient potential finance minister (because this election was held before Raja and Kanimozhi scandal became common knowledge).

from:  Suresh
Posted on: Jun 9, 2012 at 04:53 IST

I kindly request the Hindu to tell who the special correspondent is ,
is it Ms.Shalini Singh? This article seems like a hit job on
Mr.Chidambaram which has been going on for a while with regular
articles written in The Hindu.This leads to the speculation that there
is some conspiracy against the home minister by a coordinated effort.

Before giving judgements in the newspapers and media, let the case be
reviewed and judged by a good standing court.Giving opinions and
subtle characterization of people in a negative way can also be
considered interference with the law and its course.Since the case is
subjudice people should not give opinions without relevant facts or
evidences.

I would like to request the hindu not to publish articles of this sort
with due consideration.

from:  Prem
Posted on: Jun 9, 2012 at 04:36 IST

It looks as if this is a neatly written article by a Congress' supporter. We do not know the complete picture until the court decides.

But, one thing is for sure that Chidambaram's term will end before court pronounce its verdict.

from:  Sugi Ganesh
Posted on: Jun 9, 2012 at 01:23 IST
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