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Silly Politics

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It is extremely foolish for the likes of Mayawati, at least, to demand a return to voting by ballot papers in the coming Lok Sabha elections. She must not forget that the communities which largely constitute her votebank are exactly the ones that were deprived of their voting rights in the past through the capture of voting booths and stuffing of ballot boxes. It is understandable that parties representing dominant social groups wish to see the return of the old days, or those that have traditionally depended on violence and intimidation to rig elections, such as the SP, Left, or the relatively new Trinamool Congress. The latter had to evolve a lumpen response to the totalitarian approach of the Left and, today, has perfected the art of hijacking mandates. The EVM represents a small but significant technological means to prevent booth capture and stuffing by staggering the voting process and making it impossible to change the contents in the period of a swift raid.
That the Congress is also backing this demand is an example of serious self-injury. It should know that the BJP, with its vast and well-trained cadres is much more capable of ‘managing’ booths than the soft and scarce Congress activists. It might believe that with some states under its rule, it would be able to use administrative control to fix the elections, but – except in some pockets – it would overall be the loser.
The most recent claim made by some hitherto unknown person that EVMs were used to rig the 2014 elections is not just preposterous, it also indicates the silly levels Congress politics has been reduced to – in this case by Kapil Sibal. It also represents an attempt to influence India’s elections from foreign lands – technically a crime in most countries. Among the most serious charges against US President Donald Trump is exactly this – collusion with outsiders to rig voting patterns.
India is a mature democracy and its voters know for whom they voted. Apart from the sense that the frequent opinion polls provide, there is always an undercurrent experienced when a strong mandate is forthcoming. Have people forgotten the mood of 2014 in favour of Modi to now claim that the mandate was actually hijacked? Even today, Modi stands head and shoulders above any other contender for the PM’s post, which is exactly why his detractors have suggested numerous strategies to overcome this difficulty, including national and regional alliances, constituency-wise contests, etc., in the bid to take advantage of India’s parliamentary and first past the post system. It all shows that despite all their ‘gathbandhans’, they don’t feel very ‘maha’ about their chances of victory. So, it is resort to plan ‘B’ – blame the EVMs!