The heart swelled with pride when one saw that a letter dated April 8 addressed by 66 distinguished former members of the steel frame of India, addressed to the President of India and the Election Commission of India doing the rounds of social media. They have come out openly as an expression of civic duty, by their conscience, to 'protect the values enshrined in the Constitution'. Very touching and inspiring.
They are obviously concerned with the issues at stake. A simple reading of the letter reveals that it is nothing but an open diatribe against the dispensation led by Prime Minister Modi. And they claim that they are not affiliated to any political party. It may be true that they are not members of any political party. But where their interests lie and whose cause they espouse is too obvious to be missed.
At one level, it borders on partisan political pamphleteering. They have beseeched the print and electronic media to disclose the partisan ways of ECI, their appeal to 'friends in the media seeking 'wide publicity' a few days ahead of the start of the first round of polls is a dead giveaway.
Where were all these gentlemen when one Mr. Navin Chawla, disciple of Mother Theresa, was Election Commissioner. They claim to have conducted elections themselves. So they should know what Mr. Needamangalam Gopalaswami, then Chief Election Commissioner wrote to the then President, not so much a hate letter as a dossier full of facts. Where were they? It was the most shameful episode in the functioning of Election Commission and Mr Navin Chawla was rewarded with CEC position, not given to many. None of them spoke a word nor wrote an anonymous Op-ed piece in the style of a White House official who wrote in the New York Times.
The VVPAT- paper trail issue is old hat. It is flogging a dead horse that refuses to come alive. Mr. TS Krishnamurthy and Mr. N Gopalaswami, far more respected than all 66 of you in tandem, have gone on record many a time on the integrity and credibility of the 'Every Vote Matters' (EVM) machine. They had demonstrated and challenged and taken it abroad too with pride as the product of the singular genius, Mr. Rangarajan who wrote under the pseudonym of Sujatha who proudly proclaimed as his legacy to a free, fair and simple election process. Booth capturing has become a thing of the past thanks to the EVMs - can anyone forget the sight of vote hunters with rifles and pistols in Bihar, UP and Madhya Pradesh. And with the Supreme Court affixing its imprimatur - our 66 friends are crying wolf and the timing is an affront to their purported 'independent' assertions.
As for the Modi Biopic, that too was not stayed by the top court. If the ECI failed to stop it, it is partisan and biased. Then the apex court would also fall in the same genre folks. As for the Yogi Adhiyanath foolhardiness, it falls foul of the Model Code of Conduct, true. For those who had conducted the elections as they proudly proclaim, they should be aware of the toothless nature of this beast - with a reprimand less than a rap on the knuckle.
Their reference to West Bengal and the Constitutional ways of Mamta Didi's administration takes the cake. Police Chief Rajeev Kumar has the gumption to stop in its tracks the premier investigating agency, CBI, with the mandate of the Supreme Court. Backed by whom but the constitution abiding Didi? Where were these civil minded, apolitical conscience keepers?
Sorry folks. You have got it all wrong. It is obvious that yours is a concerted ganging up for a cause which is dear to you. You are desperate to see the back of Narendra Damordas Modi. That is your prerogative. No one can argue with it. But to write a letter to President claiming to be in bipartisan and noble tone is a little hard to digest.
Your letter is nothing but a pamphlet meant to deride the Modi bandwagon. You are as much entitled as any other citizen to wear your loyalties on your sleeve, either individually or jointly. That is your birthright. Any one has to defend and grant you that right, which is your own.
No one in his right senses would suggest that ECI was absolutely spotless and clean. Even the venerable maverick T N Seshan @ Alsatian had his failings. Our elections are a humongous operation. The political battles are far too and many spread across too wide a continent. And with social media, print and electronic media with its 24x7 operations, and politicians of every hue not closing their mouths even while asleep, if at all, ECI has got a job tougher than the toughest. They are trying their darnedest and that is good enough. And if, despite, their tripping now and then, it is an inexorable reality, perfectly understandable in a mammoth exercise of this magnitude, which you 66 must be privy to having conducted elections yourself.
Sorry you are barking up the wrong tree. For your cause and slip are showing and it is not an endearing and welcome sight. You could well have come clean and honest on where your sympathies lie, and that would have been, dear gentleman, far more honourable.
(Author is practising Advocate in the Madras High Court)
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