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From: "Lok Satta"
To: "Tirumala Srinivas" <email@example.com>
Subject: Action Programme
Date: Mon, 6 May 2002 07:33:59 +0530
This is in continuation with the correspondence on Supreme Court judgment of 2nd May 2002 on disclosure of candidates’ record.
The Election Commission has suggested the 5 items (namely, record of past conviction and details of sentence if any, details of any pending cases 6 months prior to date of nomination, assets & liabilities of candidates, spouses and dependents, and educational qualifications of candidates) to the Supreme Court in its submission. The Election Commission is proactive in its efforts to cleanse our polity and its independence, credibility and integrity are widely respected across the country.
However the full disclosure of these 5 items of candidates will have far reaching impact on the political process. Many political parties and candidates are bound to resist this and do everything possible to undermine the Supreme Court judgment. Already the solicitor general on behalf of the union government and the counsel of the Congress party have explicitly and unequivocally opposed such disclosure in their arguments before the court. This only shows that the mainstream political parties are determined to keep the citizen in the dark.
Therefore it is imperative that the affidavit and full details regarding the candidates’ criminal record, assets and liabilities and educational qualifications should be treated as an integral part of the nomination. In such a case, not filing the affidavit and details shall entail rejection of the nomination. However false disclosure cannot be prevented. The only recourse is false disclosure should entail prosecution and election petition by the rival candidates on grounds that the voters were misled.
Civil society pressure is therefore vital to ensure that rules are framed in keeping with the spirit of the Supreme Court judgment and the requirements of full disclosure. The provisions pertaining to the assets and liabilities in particular will be very uncomfortable for the political parties and candidates. In order to overcome this political resistance we need to mobilize public opinion in a big way and demonstrate it effectively.
Lok Satta therefore humbly proposes to all the activists, citizen groups, organizations, people’s movements and concerned citizens the following action programme:
Lakhs of citizens should send post cards, emails or other forms of electronic communication to the Election Commission at the following address:
Mr. J M Lyngdoh
Chief Election Commissioner of India
New Delhi 110001
The proposed text of the message is enclosed. It may be suitably improved and translated into local languages. These letters and communication should reach the Commission positively by 31st May. The Supreme Court judgment directed the Commission to frame the guidelines and regulations within 2 months of judgment. Therefore public opinion must be expressed clearly well before these regulations are formed.
A signature campaign should be undertaken all over the country in support of the specific guidelines as outlined in the enclosed text. We should aim at a minimum of 10 lakh and hopefully upto 1 crore signatures.
Supreme Court judgment doesn’t cover elections to local governments. In Andhra Pradesh, the State Election Commission has already agreed in principle to implement the Supreme Court judgment in respect of local government elections. Citizen’s initiatives in all states may kindly contact the SEC concerned to ensure the application of this judgment in local elections. If in some States there is any difficulty we may then file a petition before the Supreme Court for a similar direction to all the SECs.
Meetings and public discourses should be held in all parts of the country to mobilize public opinion in favour of this judgment and also educate them on the need for overall electoral reforms, specifically:
- Curbing irregularities in polls
- Decriminalization of politics
- Political funding reform
- Political party reform
Signatures may also be collected during such meetings in support of effective implementation of Supreme Court judgment.
An aggressive media campaign may be launched in each State involving the press and electronic media in the form of panel discussions, news paper articles, debates, letters to editors etc. to keep the issue in public focus. You may involve students in colleges and universities in the whole campaign including signature campaign.
In the 1st week of June, the representatives of all like minded organizations can assemble in Delhi along with the signatures. With the support of activists in Delhi, we will organize a procession and present the signatures to the President of India and the Chief Election Commissioner. Such clear demonstration of public opinion will surely make political parties think twice before resisting disclosure or diluting it.
We appeal to all the organizations and concerned citizens to keep us informed of their initiatives. In each state an organization can take the responsibility to act as nodal agency. For example, Catalyst Trust in Tamilnadu, Public Affairs Center in Karnataka, MKSS in Rajasthan, CERC in Gujarat, CYSD in Orissa, AGNI in Maharashtra, PUCL, Transparency International, Manushi and CMS in Delhi, Concerned Citizens for Calcutta in West Bengal etc. may take up this responsibility. Friends can identify other such nodal agencies in other states and contact them and initiate action.
We appeal to you to seize this opportunity in right earnest. Lok Satta’s experience shows that disclosure has a significant impact on the quality of candidates and behaviour of political parties over a time. In Andhra Pradesh the parties no longer nominate new candidates with criminal record, though entrenched politicians with such a record continue. Public pressure has forced major parties to change their nominees for influential positions like Zilla Parishad Chairpersons. Supreme Court judgment covers assets and liabilities of candidates and therefore has greater long term potential for transforming the nature of our politics.
We will be greatful if you could keep us informed of further developments and progress on this issue.
Please feel free to contact the following individuals at Lok Satta office , if you need any clarifications or support in this matter:
Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan
G Pratibha Rao
Our contact numbers are listed at the bottom of this communication.
with warm regards
Lok Satta Movement
# 401/408 Nirmal Towers
Dwarakapuri Colony, Punjagutta
Hyderabad - 500 082
Tel: 91-40 3350778/3350790
Fax: 91-40 3350783
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