Bhopal: One vote cost CP Joshi CM’s post; his wife did not cast vote: Quraishi

Staff ReporterUpdated: Wednesday, May 29, 2019, 03:24 AM IST
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Bhopal: Congress leader CP Joshi lost the assembly election in Rajasthan in 2008 by one vote, and later, it was revealed, that his wife did not cast her vote, said former Chief Election Commissioner (CEC), India, SY Quraishi. His defeat had cost him the post of chief minister, said former CEC. He made the above remarks on Monday, the last day of the three-day Bhopal Literature and Art Festival.

The former election commissioner Quraishi admitted that the commission had failed to control the use of money power in polls. He recalled: “Once we had caught cash being carried in an ambulance. And we had to take care that we searched the vehicle only after the patient had reached the hospital. The man was not actually a patient. Yet, had we stopped the ambulance midway, we would have been in trouble.”

He said faster updating of electoral rolls and reining in the use of money power will make India’s electoral system, which is the best in the world, even better. Indian elections are a marvel. They are not only the biggest elections in the world but are also a management exercise of unparalleled proportions. They were absolutely free and fair in the era of the ballot papers and they continue to be so in the age of the EVMs.

A discussion on Quraishi’s book ‘An Undocumented Wonder – the Making of the Great Indian Election’ was held as part of the fest. He had a conversation with R Parshuram, director general of Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Good Governance and Policy Analysis on the book, which was followed by a question and answer session. Quraishi, 72, a former IAS officer of the Haryana cadre, rubbished all the allegations about the manipulation of EVMs. “Tell me, if the ruling party could have got the machines hacked, how and why the BJP (Bharatiya Janta Party) would have lost the recent Assembly elections 5-0?” he asked in reply to the query of a reporter.

He said malfunctioning of the EVMs should not be confused with the machines not being fool-proof. “Any machine can malfunction. What is mandatory is that such machines should be replaced within half an hour. If that is not done, it would be a failure,” he said. When asked whether some European countries had discarded EVMs, Quraishi said four countries had done so and all of them were using machines manufactured by a Netherlands-based company.

“Those machines were open to manipulation as their signals could be caught outside the polling booths,” he said.
Quraishi said that EVMs being used in India were the ‘best in the world’ and after the introduction of VVPAT, it was absolutely clear that they cannot be rigged by any means. He said he was not in favour of making voting compulsory. “There are two ways to promote greater participation of the people in the electoral exercise. The first is using the stick and the second is persuasion. We used the second way and succeeded in clocking the highest-ever voter turnout in the recent elections,” he said. Regular updating of electoral rolls is very essential, he said.

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