Staying true to the chicanery and hard-wired hypocrisy of the plot that gets sold to us as the Electoral Process, the political parties that have institutionalised loot, plunder and criminality have once again colluded to ensure that the thugs are back in business.
The denizens of Himachal Pradesh will shortly be exercising their right to elect the representatives to the state assembly. Subsequently, if the various manifestos that I no longer bother to read [since those serve no purpose other than testing the powers of my incredulity] are to be believed, a new day will dawn leading to a future so bright that it will dazzle us all the way to infinity.
Lies. Bloody Lies. Damned Lies.
GIGO is closer to the truth. Garbage In. Garbage Out.
In stark contrast to the cacophonous white-noise on meaningless lip-serviced stuff like good governance, cleaning up the polity and putting up cleaner candidates, almost ALL political parties have reflexively regressed to the tried and tested practice of putting some garbage into the electoral funnel once again.
And they actually hope that what will emerge at the other end of the funnel will be some impeccable folks steeped in lessons in good governance.
For God’s sake, this is an election process – not some friggin’ alchemy lab.
A detailed set of reports on the contesting candidates by HPEW [Himachal Pradesh Election Watch] blows the lid right off the lofty talk by various assorted leaders who have been indulging in their usual hollow speeches as they do what they do best – beg for votes that most of them do not deserve.
Let us cut the nonsense - theirs as well as mine - and dive straight into hard data, naked facts and reveal-all figures, shall we? The full Monty, in a manner of speaking.
Sources & References: HPEW and ADR Reports as well as some other reports on Electoral Reforms that I have listed down in my last few write-ups.
Part A – CRIMINALS singing “We Don’t Need No Education”
Out of 445 candidates analyzed for the Himachal Pradesh Assembly Elections, 69 candidates [16 percent] have declared criminal cases against them.
Amongst major parties, every party has given tickets to candidates who have declared criminal cases. INC has 16 out of 68, BJP has 7 out of 67, BSP has 8 out of 62, HLP has 6 out of 32, AITC has 2 out of 26, CPM has 10 out of 16 candidates with declared criminal cases.
Candidates with Serious Criminal Cases: Out of the 69 candidates with declared criminal cases, 30 have declared serious criminal cases like murder, attempt to murder, kidnapping, robbery, extortion etc. CPM has 5, INC has 5, BJP has 4, HLP has 1 and BSP has 5 such
Candidates against whom charges have been framed: Out of these 69 candidates with declared criminal cases, charges have been framed against 41 candidates with cases of kidnapping, theft, dacoity etc.
Candidates with Heinous & Violent Crime Cases: The following candidates have declared serious criminal cases of murder, kidnapping and theft against them:
(a) Tikender Panwar (of CPM from Shimla constituency) has declared two charges of murder and attempt to murder. He features in Part B as well!
(b) Kushal Bhardwaj (of CPM from Jogindernagar constituency) has declared one charge of attempt to murder
(c) Ramesh Chand (of BJP contesting from Jawalamukhi) has declared 1 charge related to kidnapping
(d) Ramesh Dutt (SSH) from Fatehpur constituency has declared one charge relating to theft
(e) Rattan Chand (CPI) contesting from Chamba too has declared one charge relating to theft amongst other charges.
Candidates with cases under Prevention of Corruption Act: Six candidates have declared that they have cases registered against them under the “Prevention of Corruption Act”, namely Virbhadra Singh (INC) from Shimla Rural constituency, Anirudh Singh (INC) contesting from Kasumpti, Harish (INC) from Shimla constituency, Suresh Chandel (BJP) from Bilaspur constituency, Rajiv Bindal (BJP) from Nahan constituency and Daulat Ram (HLP) contesting from Bilaspur constituency.
Educational Background: 197 out of the 445 candidates analysed declared 12th Pass as the highest qualification.
Part B – Asset Increase, No IT Returns, No PAN cards:
A total of 163 candidates (37%) out of the 445 candidates analyzed by the HPEW have declared that they have never filed income tax returns.
Out of the 163 candidates analyzed who have never filed income tax returns, BSP has 40 out of 62 candidates, BJP has 11 out of 68 candidates, HLP has 13 out of 32 candidates and AITC has 11 out of 26 candidates who have not filed IT Returns.
Furthermore, out of the 163 candidates who have never filed IT returns, 75 do not have a PAN card!
Now let us turn our attention to some examples of those who have declared a neat stash of cash but are too poor to file IT returns. Rakesh Singh of CPM contesting from Theog with total assets of Rs 17.28 crore. He is followed by Vijay Jayoti an independent from Kasumpti with assets of Rs 7.23 crore and Tikender Panwar of CPM from Shimla with Rs 3.05 crore.
What makes matter worse is that Vijay Jayoti and Tikender Panwar do not even have a PAN card. And yes, as an aside, both these gentlemen fall in the “8th Pass or below” club when it comes to Educational Qualifications. Tikender featured in Part A as well – with so many feathers in his cap, he sure does the Electoral System proud!
A quick look at the list of re-contesting MLAs shows a pattern that I have written about in great detail earlier — eye-popping increase in assets. Let the table do all the talking.
Just for a lark, and on a whim, let me contrast this with Sonia Gandhi’s declared wealth of a puny Rs. 1.37 cr!
Question: Till when are we expected to feel like blind (wo)men in a dark room looking for a black cat that simply isn’t there, each time we seek integrity and ethics in the polity?
And finally, a request to FirstPost Readers: The least that we can do, if we wish to stop the Polity from destroying the soul of democracy [and the country] is to try and empower ourselves and the voters of Himachal Pradesh with two tools. So please do share these with as many people you can reach out to, through whatever medium and means.
Tool 1: Anyone who owns a mobile phone, can access vital information [Educational Qualifications, Criminal Background as well as Declared wealth] of the contestants from his/ her constituency by sending a text [MYNETA ] to 56070 or to +91-92465-56070.
For instance if the pin-code of the constituency where you reside is 173219, then send a text “MYNETA 173219” to 56070 or to +91-92465-56070.
[Please note that for other states, you can send the text to call for the details about the incumbent MP/MLA].
Tool 2: If none of the candidates from your constituency deserves your vote, the law of the land provides you the right to reject all of them. Unfortunately, the Polity has ganged up on this and denied the voters a NOTA [None of the above] option on the Electronic Voting Machine.
But there is a way out.
Vide Rule 49 O of the Conduct of Election Rules 1961, if an elector, after his electoral roll number has been duly entered in the register of voters in Form-17A and has put his signature or thumb impression thereon as required under sub-rule (1) of rule 49L, decides not to record his vote, a remark to this effect shall be made against the said entry in Form 17A by the presiding officer and the signature or thumb impression of the elector shall be obtained against such remark.
So if none of the candidates deserves your vote, go ahead and exercise your right to reject all of them by casting a blank vote.
Chipping away with cute toffee hammers. Till we find a mean sledgehammer. And we will.