An Open Letter to the Chief Election Commissioner

17th February, 2012


Dr. S.Y. Quraishi                                                                                                               

Chief Election Commissioner, Election Commission of India
Nirvachan Sadan,
Ashoka Road, New Delhi-110001
Tel: 011-23717391 Fax: 011-23713412  

Dear Dr. Quraishi

On 31st of December last year, just as the new year was taking over from the old, parts of a blog I had posted a few days before were published in a newspaper which brought into question your decision to declare elections in UP and the other four states at a time of the Congress’ choosing.

My argument was sanctioned by a series of acts of omissions and commissions I attributed to you in timing the elections to the benefit of the Congress Party. I quoted from news reports, including your own utterances and contextualized them against the dates you chose to base my views. [The blog post can be accessed on under the title “CEC. And what you don’t see”]

You took exception and demanded to know from my party President whether that was indeed the view of the BJP as a whole or my individual opinion. I remember writing to my Party president that whereas the views may indeed have been personal, the position was consistent and as later events proved, even prescient.

It does not humour me to note that I have been too right about it all.

Consequent developments have seen a Congress Minister [of Law too!] exfoliate your commitment to ‘a level playing field and free and fair elections without reference to caste and communality’ in as brazen a manner as could possibly be. Your coquettish complaints thereafter, to the PM and the President, and the rebuttals from the Minister in question and finally a coded apology that seemed to have satisfied you rather quickly are to my mind, signals of the same syndrome.

It strikes me as strange that the custodian of India’s electoral apparatus does not see the plain design of the Congress to achieve its ends through pre-meditated bursts of communal appeasement with the warm and fuzzy assurance that they will finally be exonerated with a sweet apology. In fact, the pattern seems to suggest, as one Member of Parliament put it, a ‘scripted’ act where while the Congress played its part, you stepped up to your role as well.

Your good natured hemming and hawing in the face of a blatant appeal to communalism and refusal to take action has only established a new low for the EC and it may now be said with greater clarity that your tenure is on the anvil of notching up the dubious reputation for the EC of becoming a lap-dog institution instead of the watch-dog institution it was expected to be.

It may be pertinent to note now that the virus has spread and another Congress Minister – the vaunted architect of the Congress dream for UP – has embarked on the same course which makes it seem that the Commission was barking up the wrong tree in the first place. In reference to the Congress party, writing to the PM, or the President makes no sense, you should have known. And you should have also known that nobody says what they say without sanction from the Family.

Your naïveté is endearing but it is too practiced to carry conviction.

I can see the BJP trying its best to keep its angst at bay and approach you in the best traditions of keeping the institution alive, respectfully making submissions while you are constantly having to wink at the other side. Naturally, it does not make the Commission look good.

A spokesperson for the Congress party has found this conflict grounds enough to initiate a grander debate on electoral reforms and suggested that the model code of conduct be made statutory if you had problems with such behaviour. This boorish response has escaped you to the detriment of the situation and today the EC cuts a sorry figure, wringing its hands while the Congress kicks it in its teeth.

Why should you be absolved?, that is the question. That you have no punitive powers, or that statute limits your actions is no excuse.  

It is a fact that the purposes of the Congress were met in the very first utterances of its Ministers in charge. The promises they made, repeated and reiterated to Muslims hold even after your censure and their apology. Their message has been conveyed to the electorate. It has been reiterated. It was then repeated. The deed is done. So what use apology, what worth censure?

A perfectly neutral, and proactive CEC would see that the damage has been done, and irreparably too. A conscientious CEC – should he not be part of it – would see through the game and comprehend the diabolical sting in the tail of this strategically planned string of misdemeanours. A morally strong CEC would see the pattern and decide that the atmosphere is already vitiated, the communal balance is disturbed and the basic law of equality and electoral fairness compromised. And he would act – with the powers at his command.

I am saying that there is a fit case for countermanding the elections in UP.

Muslims are the largest bloc of voters. They directly influence election results in 173 constituencies out of the 403 going to polls, not to talk of bearing their weight on many other constituencies in collaboration with other voter blocs. The appeals to Muslims by Congress Ministers, its justification by the Congress’ first family, the insolent repetition of the same by other members of that party are all solid grounds to propose that the fundamental tenet of a communally neutral election has been compromised. In a secular democracy, this should have been blasphemy.

Secular parties have resisted, refrained and refused to stoop as low. The parties which did not make appeals on caste and communal orientation stand to lose for following constitutional norms. The level playing field is not level anymore. Your mandate – and promise – to hold free and fair elections is challenged.

Should you draw enough courage and order the countermanding of elections in UP, you will redeem not only your own credibility, but the status of the EC in the eyes of the nation.

Should you choose to not do it, I will understand.

Yours Sincerely

Sanjay Kaul

5 Responses to “An Open Letter to the Chief Election Commissioner”
  1. Shalu Sharma says:

    Looks like the EC are all gung ho at the moment. Wait till the elections are over.

  2. Mohanakrishnan says:

    Well written but clearly one sided. Given that you have a declared affinity to BJP, not surprising. I will give a disclaimer too – I am no great fan of BJP and am increasingly annoyed by the double speak. I feel in that sense Congress has no pretension – it is blatant on your face whatever they do. It is so frustrating to hear BJP speak as if they brought the reforms and liberalisation in those 5 years / 13 months / 13 days glorious rule to make India shine. The balance 50+ years were incidental. I feel the rhetoric – slogans, nationalism drown facts.

    I fully agree that Congress crossed the line – that too a Law minister doing it was unpardonable. But going by the famous right wing theory of two wrongs, I guess Varun Gandhi too got away – remember he did not even apologize, the party protected him saying the hate speech never happened. You know what is true.

    I have some doubts – am sure you will clarify

    1. In recent elections, we have seen party manifestos promising free stuff if voted to power. Actually this affects the level playing field too. But political parties are vying with each other to do that – BJP is no exception.
    2. Promising the Ram mandir and a spiritual disneyland – not sure if they have to be considered as very secular and non communal moves.
    3. My reading of the reports suggest that BJP is opposed to the carving out of quota from OBC – with a view to position itself as the champions of OBC. This is not caste / community driven.
    4. If there is something in the manifesto – that is in public domain and distributed, will it be wrong to repeat that during election rallies?
    5. Why is that BJP always manages to hedge – if the results are not in their favour, blame it on EC. If they win it is despite the evil designs of the Italian family and the CEC ‘who wants to President of India’ (in the wisdom of right wing twitters lead by the new found virat hindu Swamy).
    6. When Congress tried to tarnish the Team Anna, it was disgusting. But you see that so often on the other side. IPS officers / Judges – no one is spared if they speak against BJP. They are tarnished – called eve teasers, petty thieves and what not. Meenakshi Lekhi has been given a full time job to handle such propaganda. Equally disgusting.

    Let us leave that – elections are like that. But when I read the line ‘I can see the BJP trying its best to keep its angst at bay and approach you in the best traditions of keeping the institution alive’ I felt this is too much.

    I am unable to forget how the party encouraged a CM Kalyan Singh to promise the court that he will protect the structure – but willfully neglected it.

    I am unable to forget that L K Advani helped the ally Vaiko in the Pota review.

    I distinctly remember L K Advani giving a clean chit to Dara Singh within a couple of days after Staines was burnt.

    Times of India and Tehelka will tell the world if the Enforcement agencies were used against critics.

    Is this your way of respecting the institutions?

    If you answer this citing Congress excesses right from 1947, I can understand. After all, your mandate is that, not reasoned debate or placing facts.

    Abuses welcome.



  3. HH says:

    Mr. Qureshi is a muslim. I rest my case.

  4. rs says:

    Great read. It should have desired effect unless it is scripted as we all know. or may be wait for another notice from CEC :).
    One theory doing round is Mr Qureshi will be next Pres or VP:).

  5. well written blog. Yes I agree for the demand that UP Elections should be countermanded for blatant violation of code in a conspiracy manner being carried out,by Congress with connivance.
    Like you many of us felt that advancing the elections in UP, is only to help Congress Party. The EC’s action from the very beginning was suspicious. The order to cover the statues of Elephants in UP, in my opinion was a result of EC’s personal religious indignation towards idol worship.
    As two former EC’s expressed their views that Mr Prasad be disqualified for his code violation, one more rumors floating around is, Mr Qureshi is the likely candidature for Presidents post in July.
    UPA is misusing the secular tenets of Hindus at the cost of our Nation. There is an urgent need to stop this decay

    Krishna Baalu


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