Less than two weeks are left before the counting of vote begins on 10th March early morning. As one amongst crores of Indians who are deeply concerned about the security, safety and development of the country I venture to write to you at this important juncture of time. You must be extremely preoccupied now, but the contents of the letter deserves your preferred attention. Before coming to that I must write few small paras as background.
You famously said this election is a fight of 80 vs.20. This has been an under assessment. In terms of beneficiaries of good governance this ought to be a fight of 90 vs. 10. These 90 per cent are poor, oppressed, disadvantaged common people cutting across caste and religion, while the 10 per cent are a minority of powerful people who were prospering at the expense of the common men. They included the political regimes which ruled the state before 2017 and their elaborate ecosystem comprising media, sections of bureaucracy, intelligentsia and other vested interests.
On the basis of 90 vs 10, your win should be simple and a straight forward outcome. That would be the case provided people exercise their vote spontaneously on own accord. But the ground situation is complex. A nexus of domestic and international powers including global media, religious fundamentalists, neo-fascist forces are also determined to prevent your return as head of the government. Your model of governance that is based on the edifice of Bharat’s civilizational legacy has been such a phenomenal success that given a second chance it is likely to be replicated in other states. That can potentially change the course of politics in India. This very possibility makes them nervous and going all out to influence the voters’ psyche against you and your party. Thus you are pitted against not only the opposition parties but also this powerful nexus. It will be difficult to win this battle unless you have full awareness of the whole gamut of forces you are posited against.
With this small briefing let us identify three important areas you need to take note of. These are: Perception war, Politics of fear, and Process vulnerabilities and their abuse.
Perception war: Truly speaking, the media has succeeded in converting this election of ‘no contest’ to one of ‘keen contest’ in people’s perception. They did it through biased reports and stories, dubious opinion polls, reviving caste identities over development, and so on. Sadly, your party leadership came under such media pressure. This showed up in the manner a galaxy of central leaders held successive rallies and attacked the opposition leaders bringing them to public glare after a long 5 years. The people of UP had nearly forgotten them so powerful was the performance of your government.
You could fight this election simply on the planks of law and order, security, development, UP pride and how you propose to take the next leap forward! Though the relevance of the ‘perception’ factor may seem to be less now, yet you need to be reminded and be confident of your clear superiority The purport of this observation would be clearer in the later part of this article.
Politics of fear: Based on media reports, the law and order situation in UP has shown deterioration after the onset of Model Code of Conduct. The incidents of political violence has risen considerably. In most cases leaders, workers and even supporters of your party have been allegedly attacked by the opposition parties. The violence has taken various shapes including even murders in few cases. What can influence the elections more are the covert and overt threats and intimidation in the vast rural belt and select areas in towns and cities. It is becoming clear that some parties are using ‘politics of fear’ as an election strategy taking advantage of the comparatively less active bureaucracy and police during the MCC period. Notably, in your recent interview to DD (Gorakhpur Conclave) we heard you saying women voters in a constituency were obstructed from casting their votes by political rivals. This demonstrates the limitations of the EC in sharp relief and also how can unscrupulous political parties take advantage of it!
Process vulnerabilities and abuse: At this stage of the election, this factor deserves your greatest attention. All of us are aware of the evil practice called ‘scientific rigging’ -a legacy of the left parties in parliamentary system. It basically involved studying all processes and subprocesses of the country’s election system to identify loopholes and exploit them unethically for electoral benefits. Examples were many like identifying dead voters in the list and impersonating them, incorporating names of non-citizens likely to be their vote bank, deleting names of known supporters of other parties, jamming booth on the voting day and raising frivolous technical complaints of EVM malfunctioning in booths where rival parties have strong support base, to name a few.
What is of graver concern is the emergence of professional election advisory companies helping political parties win elections. Run on strictly commercial basis, they have lifted the evil of ‘scientific rigging’ to another new level. Starting from the scratch i.e., helping their clients in preparing overall election strategy their activities supposedly are spreading to the counting round. They tend to exploit every kind of human vulnerability and technical weakness in the myriads of processes ruthlessly for their client’s advantage. Their growing role in state elections are attracting public attention, the most prominent case being one in Bengal.
There were several disturbing reports in the social media concerning last year’s polls in that state. These included the ruling party workers scaring agents of rival parties and forcing them out of the counting centres, selectively leaving out some EVMs from the scope of counting, and more. Intriguingly, there were also reports of some candidates (who had joined BJP on the poll eve from other parties and given tickets) acting as trojan horses and conceding defeat before final counting was over.
What is of utmost concern to the country in general is the fact that many of their techniques have become publicly known and the lure of easy electoral dividend can tempt unscrupulous political parties in general to replicate them! It is really unfortunate that the ECI, which essentially relies on co-operation and ethical functioning by political parties, does not seem to be equipped enough to handle pre-meditated and conspiratorial machinations.
Having identified and elaborated the factors that are coming in the way of a certain victory, we must highlight at this stage about the crucial importance of the ‘counting round’. Kindly consider it as the eighth round of 2022 polls. If it is not handled with extreme seriousness, much of the hard work done by you hitherto will be undone. You must have a team of competent, committed and trusted band of workers who would brave threat and intimidation, if any, and remain alert and vigilant till the last vote is counted in every constituency. They must extend fullest cooperation to the ECI officials and ensure that the whole process of counting is carried out in complete fairness.
It will be relevant to end this open letter with a parable.
Three princes were to appear in a archery contest. The king was examining their suitability as his heir apparent. The middle prince was the best archer and he was supportive of his elder brother for the post. The youngest prince was cunning and ambitious but fell short of his middle brother in terms of skill. On the day of the contest, all three princes shot one arrow each at the board places at a distance. The middle brother’s arrow seemed to hit the bull’s eye. The youngest one’s sped arrow appeared to come close. But he insisted he has hit the target and the middle prince actually missed by a narrow margin. The matter was not difficult to resolve as the name of the owner was engraved on the shaft. When everyone went to the target board, it seemed the youngest prince has actually hit the bull’s eye. The events presented a mystery to all. The youngest prince only had the clue. He had in the previous night stealthily entered into his brother’s armour room and exchanged the arrows in their quivers.
The morale of the story is never let your guard off! No quarter can be given for any nasty surprise at the end of this long hardly fought election process!