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People power EC in polls

I have personally got confirmation from my friends at Chennai and in villages (Kanchipuram, Arani and Vanthavasi) that both leading parties in Tamil Nadu had given money to vote (Rs 200 in villages and up to Rs 1,000 in Chennai).

delhi Updated: May 07, 2011 22:43 IST
Chetan Chauhan

I have personally got confirmation from my friends at Chennai and in villages (Kanchipuram, Arani and Vanthavasi) that both leading parties in Tamil Nadu had given money to vote (Rs 200 in villages and up to Rs 1,000 in Chennai).

This is one of the thousands of emails and SMS the Election Commission received from the people of the 5 poll-bound states.

The tip-off includes the misuse of money to threatening voters to violation of the model code of conduct. And, the proactive role played by citizens was a probable cause for the commission seizing over Rs 64 crore in the five states, with a record Rs 60 crore from Tamil Nadu alone.

"They (citizens) were acting as our eyes and ears and supplemented the official observer's role," said Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi, who had provided his mobile number and email address to citizens. For the first time, mobile numbers of Election Commissioners and senior commission officials were advertised in the election bound states, evoking a good public response.

A citizen, Debangshu Chowdhury, from Kolkata told Quraishi through an e-mail about the possibility of bogus voting in certain polling booths in Jadavpur. The commission was quick to deploy additional forces and the citizen reverted back saying "we for the first time experienced a very fair election".

Srikanth Valuthur in Tamil Nadu turned into a citizen watchdog, much more than the commission's expectations. He distributed the commission telephone numbers to about 2,000 people in his locality in Chennai. And, there were several citizens like Valuthur in these five states.

"The fact that the citizens complained freely to the EC about the misuse of money power and also returned goodies augur well for our democracy," said Anil Bairwal, of NGO Association for Democratic Rights.