Special Correspondent

‘Law-breakers’ becoming ‘law-makers’, alleges former Advisor to the Election Commission

Election Watch forum not to wind up its show after the elections

TIRUPATI: K.J. Rao, former Advisor to the Election Commission, who is currently playing a proactive role in the ‘Election Watch-Andhra Pradesh’, a voluntary watchdog panel against poll-related irregularities, has on Friday, highlighted the ten points on which the members of the Election Watch should lay focus in the run-up to the ensuing elections in the State.

Sad situation

He was addressing representatives of the NGOs which offered to work in tandem with the panel to cast a hawk’s eye on the political parties and the contestants who tend to unleash their money, muscle and liquor power on the voters to garner votes.

He regretted that such a sad situation should have arisen in the Indian electoral history due to criminalisation of politics, especially during the last two decades which in its wake saw ‘law-breakers’ becoming the ‘law-makers’.

It was in this context that Mr. Rao said the ‘none of the above’ column should be introduced in the ballot papers and the voters allowed to choose the option if they did not like to vote for any of the candidates whose names were mentioned in the ballot papers.

He said if those who exercised this option were more than the votes polled by the individual contestant in any constituency, a re-election must be ordered giving due credence to the voice of the voters.

He then went on to explain how his frantic efforts through the CEC during his stint in the EC to bring pressure on the successive governments to suitably amend the Representation of People’s Act to provide for this facility met with lukewarm response for obvious reasons.

Asserting that the Election Watch forum would not wind up its show after the elections, Mr. Rao said that it would spearhead a campaign to exert pressure on the government to bring about the much-awaited electoral reforms to effectively deal with the political aberrations that have crept into the electoral system.

As to the issues on which the NGOs and ‘Election Watch’ should have a close vigil, Mr. Rao cited the following:

The unlicensed wine shops operating in the district -- this could be ascertained by securing a list of licensed shops from the Excise Superintendents.

Each candidate is permitted to use only three vehicles plus one for security during the campaign and any vehicle not displaying the original ‘vehicle pass’ on its windshield should be impounded.

Data bank

Cross verification of the affidavits filed by the candidates with the ones filed in the last election to ascertain their criminal track record, property value and so on.

The poll watch has created a State-level data bank in this regard for comparative studies.