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EVM dunnit

Mayawati attempts to turn away from message on the poll wall: She needs to step up to change, re-invent her politics.

By: Editorial |
March 13, 2017 12:35:19 am

Election Results 2017, Elections 2017, BJP elections, BJP UP results, BJP Uttarakhand results, Narendra Modi elections, BJP, Modi wave, EVMs, election EVMs, India news

Faced with the scale of the BJP win in UP and Uttarakhand, some of its rivals are behaving like bad losers. Reluctant to admit that their tactic and their strategy could not withstand the Modi wave, and that the drubbing they have received at the hands of the voters may require them to reassess their politics in deeper ways, some leaders are questioning the credibility of the electoral process itself. BSP supremo Mayawati, Uttarakhand Pradesh Congress chief, Kishore Upadhyaya, and the outgoing chief minister, Harish Rawat, have claimed that the electronic voting machines (EVMs) were tampered with. Mayawati has formally complained about the EVMs to the Election Commission and has demanded fresh polls with ballot papers. She has also claimed — with no evidence whatsoever — that if the EVMs continue to be used till 2019, “there will be no democracy left in the country”.

This is nothing but petulance and a lack of grace in defeat. India’s democracy is far from flawless, but voters trust the polling process as free and fair. Over the years, the EC has deservedly emerged as one of the country’s most trusted institutions, a fair and independent monitor of the poll process. Courts, too, have backed the EC’s efforts to weed out the flaws and distortions. Political parties across the spectrum recognise the sanctity of the polling process and instances of the loser blaming it on the EVM, the EC or polling officials are rare. There have been times when candidates have been defeated by a narrow margin — Congress leader C.P. Joshi lost an assembly election from Nathdwara, Rajasthan in 2008 by a single vote — and they have challenged the verdict in court, but such cases have been few and far between.

Mayawati’s reluctance to acknowledge defeat may well stem from her conviction that she had stitched together the perfect social coalition for this election. But the fact is, elections are not just about arithmetic. The numbers may add up and deliver a victory only if the party, or alliance, also has a narrative to attract the voter. Though larger social and community identities influence voting, parties sometimes forget that voters also have an independent existence, outside of the groups they are part of. The BJP’s success in UP was enabled by its ability to champion a political narrative that appeared to transcend the caste and communal faultlines in UP. A lesson for the Opposition in the UP poll results, therefore, is that electoral outcomes are more than a contrivance of math, and that social and political coalitions will have to do more. They will have to frame and project a persuasive agenda to win the confidence of voters.

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First published on: 13-03-2017 at 12:35:19 am
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