Citizens rise up to be vigilant on counting day | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times

Citizens rise up to be vigilant on counting day

Jun 02, 2024 07:18 AM IST

Civil society groups in Mumbai and across India plan a citizen's vigil on June 4 to ensure fairness during election result counting. Vigil to document any malpractices or misconduct.

Mumbai: The civil society organisations in the city and across the country are gearing up to hold a citizen’s vigil on June 4 - the day of the election results - to ensure all is fair during the counting of votes.

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The campaign ‘Voters Will Must Prevail’ is to keep a watch on any malpractices in the counting process or misconduct by officials or politicians in the polling process, and if any, will be promptly documenting, disseminating and following up on it.

A band containing Parakala Prabhakar, political economist and husband to finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Syeda Hameed, former chairperson of the National Commission of Women, Teesta Setalvad, civil rights activists from Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), president of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union (JNUSU) and more are part of this campaign.

“Through contact with polling agents from the INDIA Alliance, we will be maintaining a vigil at counting booths in at least 350 constituencies,” said Setalvad. “Over this, we’ll be taking in complaints of damages in counting, booth capturing, or any wrong procedures in counting both online and through four helpline numbers, two monitoring the north and east India and two for south and west India. As and when complaints come in, a legal team will file online and physical complaints with the ECI.”

On the ground, citizens will gather outside counting booths called ‘Ginti ki Chaukidaari.’ The details of the on-ground surveillance outside the counting centres in the city will be determined in the upcoming days, stated Setalvad.

Further, the group has also sent thousands of letters to state-level officers, returning officers, and observers appointed by the ECI, reminding them that “they owe their allegiance to the Indian People and the Indian Constitution, not to the government in power.” The campaign comes as a response to an all-time low faith of citizens in the institutions of democracy. Their letter reads, “The ongoing elections have been marked by a hitherto unprecedented violation of the Constitution, Indian law and the MCC and also blatant instances of evident malpractices in electioneering.”

“There is a massive trust deficit as far as the ECI is concerned,” said Prabhakar. “For starters, the way the ECI was constituted after Supreme Court ruling. The ECI’s reluctance for a long time to publish the gross voting figures, and its steadfast refusal in the Supreme Court, giving only percentages. When it did finally publish the gross voting figures, it was after a long delay, so we do not know what went on in those 15-20 days. Add to this, the way the election in Surat was manipulated and what happened in Indore has questioned the ECI’s impartiality.”

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