Reality of casting vote in Outer PC Redefining ‘volunteers’


Just a reflection of the reality under which vote was cast in the first phase of the Lok Sabha elections in the Outer Parliamentary Constituency in Manipur or will the allegations reflect in the result when it is declared on May 23 ? Just questions at the moment, but it is rather very significant to note that just 48 hours after the vote was cast on April 11, the Naga People’s Front raised the allegations that EVMs kept in three strong rooms at the office of the Churachandpur Deputy Commissioner were tampered. In raising the allegations, doubts on the integrity of the Churachandpur DC were raised with the NPF even going to the extent of asserting that complaints have been lodged with the Election Commission of India. Not surprisingly, the Chief Electoral Officer has rubbished the allegations of the NPF and negated the claims that the EVMs were tampered inside the three strong rooms. The allegations raised by the NPF fell in line with the stories that abounded during the run up to the elections with one news agency reporting that some villagers or village headmen have been ‘strongly instructed’ to vote for a particular candidate. Much before this, there were also talks that did the round of how some armed groups had thrown their weight behind a certain candidate so that the ticket that he and others were seeking was allotted to him. Uncomfortable thought it is, but then this has been more or less the same story in the Outer Parliamentary Constituency where hill based armed groups are known to throw their weights around and ensure that the man or woman of their choice is elected.
Canvassing and campaigning in the Outer mostly meant ‘gentle persuasion’ to open threats to vote according to the writ laid down by the armed outfits and the interesting part is not all the armed outfits will back a single candidate. Given the sharp ethnic divide in the hills, an armed group may vouch for a certain candidate while another group will back a certain candidate and it was amid this that reports of EVMs being damaged and voting held up came pouring into the media houses. The topography also went a long way in aiding the armed outfits to impose their writs and diktats, thereby defeating the very understanding of holding a free and fair election. Everybody knows it but no one deems it wise to do anything about it for reasons which need not be spelt out here. Impersonation has also been given a a new definition with ‘volunteers’ voting in place of a genuine voter and in many case, such a practise is an open secret with even the genuine voter being told that the ‘volunteers’ will do the needful and they need not stand in the queue for hours. In one stroke the message that the ‘volunteers’ are doing a favour for the genuine voter by standing in the long queue and casting his or her vote has been rung out. And all these are done with the justification ‘for the common good of the Nation.’ The vote has been cast and the shadow of the ‘volunteers’ and the ‘tampering’ will continue to cast their long shadow, defeating the term ‘people’s representative’. Now attention of the people will be on the Inner Parliamentary Constituency which will go to vote on April 18.

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