Anecdotes

1

"During my five and half years in the ECI, I witnessed the growth of ‘money power’ as a hydra-headed monster. No sooner that we cut off one head that others would appear to replace it. The 2009 Thirumangalam by-election in Tamil Nadu gained both national and international notoriety for the “novel” methods developed by parties to bribe voters. This “Thirumangalam” formula has sadly been replicated everywhere and ingenious have been developed to beat the statutory limits of expenditure which is Rs. 70 lakhs for the General Election and up to Rs. 28 lakhs for an assembly seat. In a rare unguarded moment, a former Maharashtra minister let it slip that he spent Rs. 8 crores on his 2009 election."

2

"In 2006, the government’s response was to set up a Standing Committee of the parliament to examine the EC’s suggestions. In its report dated February 27, 2007, it concluded that the debarment of those charged with heinous offences, instead of a panacea, could instead become an instrument of misuse by political parties in power, seeking vendetta against their rivals. The committee unanimously turned down the ECI’s proposal and instead offered the solution of special courts and day-to-day trials. No such mechanism is in sight. The conclusion is inescapable. “Winnability” continues to prevail."

3

"India deserves a fair and accessible ​voting system, and the General Elections of 2009 ensured the same with ‘Vulnerability Mapping’, an electoral innovation. In order to not remain static but evolutionary, this method ensured there is an inclusive and egalitarian framework, thus widening the voting processes."

4

"The conduct of elections in India's largest state, Uttar Pradesh, has always been one of the biggest challenges for the Commission, given its size and social complexities. While preparing for the 2007 Assembly Elections, the Commission used technology and its now computerized rolls to find out which areas (townships, villages and tolas) had not voted for long periods in previous elections. This gave us many valuable insights on how to approach this mammoth problem."

5

"On the forenoon of the poll day in U.P, the Observer noticed that in one particular polling station, the voters from the weaker sections had not come to vote. The Observer went to the particular village and saw a few hundred voters being prevented by a handful of armed men from casting their votes. Taking the help of the local police, the voters were enabled to proceed to the polling station."

6

"The ECI observers did a marvellous job in U.P. They tracked every vulnerable location as the electoral administration had identified the potential troublemakers by name and forewarned them against violence - there was no threat or intimidation on the poll day. The U.P elections, for the first time in years, were violence-free. Vidya Subramaniam, writing in Frontline on May 19 2007, summed this up, "In Lucknow, where I start my journey, local journalists breathlessly talk about an election that has not been this free and fair in decades. They eulogise the Election Commission of India for making this possible and speak of Dalits in the remotest villages trooping out to cast their votes - in many cases for the first time since Independence. 'This is a miracle', they say!"