‘Let Us Monitor and Ensure Impartial Vote Counting,’ Say Civil Society Representatives

Bengaluru: Several representatives of civil society organisations held meetings in Bengaluru and Delhi to discuss the manner in which the Lok Sabha elections were conducted and vowed to prevent any kind of malpractices or manipulations during the counting of votes.

“After much deliberation both the meetings took the unanimous decisions to prevent any kind of malpractices or manipulations during the counting of votes or the transfer of the power according to the mandate,” said nine civil society representatives in a press release, after attending the consultative meetings in Delhi on May 28 and Bengaluru on May 21.

The group also underlined that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) “will not step down so easily” and that the party will try its best “to retain power in their hands through despicable means like manipulating the counting using election commission, disobey the mandate or indulge in horse trading ‘Operation Kamala'”.

“We are also determined as citizens to prevent this (horse trading) at any cost. We cannot accept any kind of fraudulent numbers and fraudulent way of government formation. We will take all measures to prevent this. If the BJP government tries to get into blatant mockery of democracy by engaging in malpractices during counting or fails to respect the people’s mandate, we will follow the path of Satyagraha taught by the great freedom movement,” they mentioned, adding, “Work has begun to put pressure on the administration for impartial vote counting. An appeal letter has been sent to all the returning officers of the country. A letter has been written to the President of India and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to make sure that the constitutional process is followed.”

Further, the group – comprising of N. Venkatesh, founder leader, Dalit conflict committee; former minister and social activist B.T. Lalithanayak; L.N. Mukundaraj, public intellectual; Badagalpura Nagendra, state president, Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha; Manohar Chandra Prasad and Arun Lewis, governing council members of Wake up Karnataka; Ejaz Ahmed Bukhari, Karnataka Muslim Muttaida Mahaj; Tara Rao, international environmental activist and member of Wake up Karnataka; K.L. Ashok, governing council member, Wake up Karnataka – underlined that it is important to “monitor” and ensure “impartial vote counting”. “We are forming VVTF (Vigilant Voters Task Force) in all the Lok Sabha constituencies of Karnataka and the country. Let us monitor and ensure impartial vote counting near the polling stations – peoples vigilance will be organised with placards saying ‘Let the mandate be implemented’. Any cheating will be called out and protested against.”

On May 21, more than 120 civil organisations, under the banner of ‘Wake Up Karnataka’, had held a six-hour long discussion in Bangalore to raise concerns about potential “manipulation” of votes on counting day.

The seventh and last phase of the Lok Sabha polls was completed on Saturday, June 1 and the counting will start at 8 am on June 4. The exit polls have predicted that the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) will win more than 350 seats. Notably, during the campaigning phase the Election Commission of India (ECI) was criticised for turning a blind eye to egregious violations of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) by the ruling BJP.