June 15, 2016 1:03:51 am
Before the election to the Rajya Sabha seat from Haryana, Independent candidate R K Anand said he had the numbers — the Congress and INLD, Om Prakash Chautala’s party, officially supported the veteran lawyer. But when the ballot box was opened, Anand was shocked. A violet sketch pen was blamed for his debacle. Subhash Chandra, a media baron, emerged victorious as 14 votes of the Congress were rejected because the MLAs had used the wrong marker. Anand now says he will file an FIR in Chandigarh against Chandra for what he calls a “criminal” plot to defeat him. Excerpts from an interview:
You say a criminal plot defeated you, what is the “criminal” element?
One, introduction of a wrong pen is cheating. By doing so, you induced Congress MLAs to cast their vote using the wrong pen. So, Section 420 is applicable here. Marking the document with a wrong pen turned the document into a false note. That is an offence under Section 463. Serious offences have been committed, violating sections of the Representation of the People Act.
Where is the proof that the pen was swapped?
There are videos. Why did 13 MLAs vote with one pen? I can understand one marking with red, yellow or blue or a ball pen or ink pen. But how were all marked with one wrong pen? Who brought it there, who removed it? We know when the wrong pen began to be used and how Jaiprakash, Independent MLA, entered the room and the pen was corrected. He used the normal EC pen. How is it possible? Jai Parkash is close to Bhupinder Singh Hooda. I repeat, I know only one thing —- when the wrong pen was sneaked in and when it was withdrawn.
But nobody can say with authority that pens were swapped?
Yes, I agree. But the EC will surely examine the pattern of voting. And the pattern of rejected ballot papers. The EC will find that Aseem Goel, BJP MLA, remained in the room for too long. He took an unusually long time to cast his vote. To mark the ballot, one needs half a minute. He spent five minutes. He was Number 93. After him, from Number 94 (Renuka Bishnoi) to Number 106 (Jagbir Singh Malik), all voted with the wrong pen and were marked invalid. At Number 104, Hooda voted but his paper was blank and therefore invalid. Suddenly, from 107, the votes were valid. This means that someone changed the pen after 93 and then changed it again after 107 to allow votes for Subhash Chandra. There was a conspiracy to defeat me and they wanted Chandra elected.
Who was behind it?
The BJP, Aseem Goel, Subhash Chandra and Jai Prakash. It’s a simple story. In the same room two pens were found. Some ballot papers were rejected for using the wrong markers and others were not. Let the EC find out who changed the pen, when and why.
What are your options?
I will go to the EC. I will file an FIR. Subhash Chandra got elected because my votes were rejected. So, next time if you don’t have votes in the RS election, you can still ensure your victory by plotting so that the winner’s votes get rejected. It’s a fraud on democracy, a subversion of the election process.
But Congressmen were not exactly ready to vote for you in the first place. Why should Hooda and his MLAs give you their votes?
You are right when you say they were not politically with me, but they had more problems with the INLD. They presumed I am part of the INLD. But I claim that I am a Congressman from day one. I fought Mrs Indira Gandhi’s case. I was with Mrs Gandhi in her case against Maneka Gandhi. I have handled Rajiv Gandhi’s case and Soniaji’s case. I was a lawyer in P V Narasimha Rao’s cases, too.
In this case you convinced only Sonia Gandhi. That doesn’t mean Hooda should help you?
That may be correct. It is between Mrs Gandhi and Haryana leaders to decide… There are Congressmen whose votes have been found valid. Barring Hooda, all Congressmen voted for me. Their marking was wrong but they marked correctly against my name.
Why should Hooda vote for you and damage his politics against INLD?
It’s not a question of voting for me or not. The question before the Congress was, who is their bigger enemy? BJP or INLD? At a personal level, who should Congressmen choose, Subhash Chandra or R K Anand? Subhash Chandra is Subhash Chandra! He is one of the biggest enemies of the Congress. I am not at all an enemy of the Congress.
In retrospect do you think it would have been better if you had cajoled the MLAs whose votes you wanted? Instead of Sonia or Rahul Gandhi, should you have gone to Hooda?
I know Hooda. I am not unknown to him. I went to see him as well.
Did he agree to vote?
I had 18 votes of the INLD. I needed less than 12 votes. Even with 10 Congress votes, I could have won. In fact, with both parties supporting me, I had more votes than I needed. There was no question of me losing the election. I agree Hooda had not agreed to vote for me. But more than 10 other Congressmen voted for me. Everybody is not under Hooda. Everybody has their own career. Without the high command, they would not have been MLAs. The high command took the decision to support me. Congressmen voted for me, but their votes were rejected on technical ground of the marker.
Why did Sonia Gandhi agree to support your candidature?
I convinced her. I showed her my position. I had votes of the INLD. Why allow a free hand to Subhash Chandra, who is enemy No. 1? He is blasting you everywhere all the time. You must understand one thing. Chautala was part of the NDA. It is I who brought back Chautala to the Congress fold. It’s not an easy task. For the Congress, I was getting two votes of the INLD in Rajya Sabha and two in Lok Sabha, too, if I had won.
In your view, Subhash Chandra’s election to RS and your defeat is not final?
It has to be set aside. Changing of pen is a criminal offence. Period. He cannot get into the Rajya Sabha.
But the EC has limited powers in the matter. Once he is declared elected, there is not much the EC or you can do.
I agree that the EC’s powers are limited. But they have set aside elections in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu for much smaller offences. They have used extraordinary powers. This case is more glaring. It’s a case where election machinery — ballot papers and pen — is misused and abused to get entry into the Rajya Sabha.
What is the most crucial evidence you have today?
It speaks for itself. Can all ballot papers that were rejected be marked with one pen unless the pen is changed?
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