Tuesday, October 04, 2011

On Rest and Resurgence: Issues Before Chhattisgarh

The past three months- July, August and September- have been restful (though not entirely peaceable, as the novelist Julian Barnes might say!). More than anything else, I owe this rest to the monsoons, which had put a 100-day pause to my public work. Now, I intend to resume that work.

Everywhere farmers are complaining about black-marketing of fertilizers, which sold for as much as Rs. 900 (from a market price of Rs. 250)- and the damage caused to crops from incessant flooding. These are issues which have to be addressed on priority.

Taking advantage of the monsoons and the uplifting of the ban on creation of new districts (which had been in effect for the past 10 years), 9 new districts have been gerrymandered into existence: extremely valid claims of at least 3 regions- Pendra, Manendragarh (our version of Telengana) and Sarangarh- for district-hood have been ignored simply because of selfish and petty political considerations. To their credit, the people of these areas have cut across party lines and risen against this injustice, and it is important that we lend support to their fight.

I also intend to return to Janjgir-Korba, the site of Dr. Raman Singh’s mindless greed: our satyagrahas may have stopped the forceful eviction of landowners from their fertile, irrigated lands to pave the way for power companies but I do not for one moment believe that it is permanent; the companies, riding piggy-back on the state and district administrations, will no doubt return, and my best hope is that by then the Land Acquisition Bill would have been passed by Parliament with retrospective effect (on at least pending projects). The new law would make it mandatory for companies wishing to acquire land to obtain consent of not less than 80% of resident land-users; once that happens, it would mean that the latter can effectively re-take control of their lives.

It is a sentiment shared by Rahul Gandhi. Last month, he told Parliament that what is required to take the menace of Corruption head-on is a multi-pronged Response that is both comprehensive and in-built into our Constitutional framework. The Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI) is already in place: despite bureaucratic resistance, it has, over the past 6 years, become the single most powerful instrument in unearthing corruption in India. It now needs to be supplemented with equally powerful legislation that would curb and redress corruption in other areas, notably (1) political funding (the way political parties are funded), (2) land acquisitions, (3) illegal mining and (4) implementation of massive centrally-funded projects like MNREGA. In many ways, he has laid a blueprint for tackling corruption that is far wider than any of the several proposed versions of Lokpal, electoral reforms and judicial accountability.

In Chhattisgarh, these 4 areas identified by Rahul ji- together with the systematic pilferage and mismanagement of funds and resources meant to deal with the growing problems of left wing extremism (LWE)- remain the biggest sources of corruption in public life. The use of RTI has been comparatively limited in the state and the bureaucratic opposition in furnishing information significantly stronger. This too needs to be remedied. Even so, it is necessary to wage a systematic fight against this evil: it would require mobilization of public support, particularly among the youth, and not just in urban areas but also in our villages.

In the coming days and months, we need to go to the people of the state to engage them in a constructive debate about the possible ways to weed-out corruption from public life, and ensure that the ideas and suggestions that emerge from that debate are implemented by our state legislature. Ultimately, what is required is a full-scale change of attitude towards corruption: the dawning of the realization that it is not something we are all condemned to live- and die- with, but that with the right approach, it can, and will, be uprooted. The events of these past 3 months have made it amply clear that this has already happened; from here, its no longer a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’. I am happy to know that on 30th October, the Youth Congress is organizing exactly such a public debate in Raipur, in which youth from all across the state, including students from the soon-to-be newly elected NSUI committees, are expected to participate.

As a political party that has remained in Opposition for a very long time mostly due to our own failings, we- the Congresspersons of Chhattisgarh- are acutely aware that the biggest reason for Dr. Raman Singh’s return to power in 2008 is the large-scale disbursement of funds, looted with impunity from the state exchequer, by the BJP during elections: put simply, they have not won elections but purchased them. This factor has become more pronounced in bye- or to be more apt, ‘buy’- elections. It is, therefore, all the more necessary for us to take the bull of corruption by its horns in Chhattisgarh: if we don’t, the chances of our returning to government in the state would be very slim indeed.

Other long-term goals remain, and we must continue to work towards their fulfillment. The state Youth Congress has already begun its “Sharab-bandi Satyagraha” demanding total prohibition on the sale of liquor in our state. I believe that liquor is the single biggest threat our youth face today: growing addiction to alcohol is not only destroying their lives but also preventing us from claiming our rightful place at the forefront of India’s emergent states. Foregoing Rs. 800 crores in excise duties is a small price to pay for saving Chhattisgarh’s future.

The other long-term goal is to bring pressure on the state government to implement the many promises it had made in its election manifestos: every government must be made to realize the penalty for not keeping its commitments to the people, and for fooling them not once but twice.

I believe that the best way to do all this is by going to the people, through Padyatras.
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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Reliving Tendukheda

शीशे का बदन था, पहाड़ों का सफ़र था
घर आ गया हूँ, आपकी दुआओं का असर था
I’ve read Le Bon’s fascinating treatise on mob mentality (La psychologie des foules). Last night, I lived it: on my way to Jabalpur from Mehaka, the farthest outpost of Jabera cut-off from the rest of this assembly constituency by incessant rains and floods, I stopped to have tea at a Congressman and former Nagar Panchayat president, Ramkumar Sahu’s home at Tendukheda; half an hour later, at about 9 pm, when we were about to drive off, a mob of about 200 armed hoodlums, led by Vinod Gotia, the BJP’s state vice president, and Ujiyar Singh, brother of BJP candidate Dashrath Singh, forcibly entered Mr Sahu's house, stoned our car, dragged us out, and beat us mercilessly till we lost consciousness. (Frankly, they could have done a lot worse, especially given the fact that we were totally defenseless and offered relatively no resistance: in that sense, at least, I am grateful to the mob that they- it- didn't go any further.)

Swatantra Agrawal, a close friend of the family, received heavy blows all over his back while bravely defending me from the assailants; Sandeep Sahu, the PYC state general secretary, sustained serious head injuries, and has partially lost hearing in his left ear (even so, he is more scared about what his wife, Seema, would do to him!); Anil Chouhan, my PSO (personal security officer), had his weapon, a pistol, snatched from the mob before he could do anything; Pratap Singh Lodhi and Sachin Yadav, two local Congress leaders, were, I am told, also beaten rather badly.

Mr Sahu’s home, where this incident took place, is less than 50 metres from the local police station. Despite repeated calls, no one came to our rescue. In fact, later at the police station, when Anil complained about the mob having taken away his pistol, the local SDOP, a certain Mr Tiwari, retrieved it in less than 5 minutes; we also heard him receive telephonic instructions from his superior, the SP of Damoh, to ensure that FIR is lodged against us as well (apparently, in the regime of Shivraj Singh, MP’s chief minister, getting beaten is also an offense): to my mind, this is as good a proof of police complicity as any.

Lying here in my bed in room 286 at the Dr Rajendra Prasad Eye Centre at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), fully conscious for the first time since last night’s incident, I cannot help but recall that this is not the first time I’ve witnessed the BJP resort to violence to brutally crush all opposition for the purpose of electoral gain: Dilip Singh Judeo, BJP MP, did it to Shailesh Nitin Trivedi, my father’s then-Political Secretary, on the eve of polling for Bilaspur Lok Sabha (April 2009); Kedar Kashyap, BJP minister, did it to Pappu Tiwari, a dhaba owner in Bhanpuri, on the eve of polling for Bastar Lok Sabha bye-election (May 2011). In both cases, the police turned a blind-eye- before, during and after the incidents. I have little doubt that this time would be any different.

In fact, the way I see it- unfortunately, now, with only my left-eye!- things are going to get a lot worse before they start to get better. My only hope is that the people of Jabera, when they rise to go to vote this morning, will not succumb to the BJP's terror tactics; that they will see it for what it really is, a neo-fascist outfit out to manipulate people’s mind with all sorts of lies and cheap-tricks; and that, when all is said and done, truth and justice- and tolerance- will prevail. For that is precisely what my late Mamu (Mummy's kid-brother), Ratnesh Solomon, who served this constituency with all this heart, mind and soul for the past 30 years, stood for.

With that happy thought, I shall now lie down, to let the painkillers take their affect.

PS- To read comments on this post, please visit here, here and here. Read More (आगे और पढ़ें)......

Friday, June 10, 2011


That Mohan Tiwari has a razor-sharp insight into political life was a fact most of us, especially those dabbling in youth politics, are acutely aware of, having faced the full ire of his grilling based on an underlying disbelief of all that we say and do. What I did not know, nor could have imagined, was that his talents stretch beyond a masterly command of words and encompass the realm of visual representation. Needless to say, this combination of journalist and caricaturist is lethal: politicians everywhere now have one more reason to fear not just Mr. Tiwari's pen but also his pencil!

The public, on the other hand, ought to be more than grateful.

To sample more of Mohan Tiwari's acerbic caricatures on contemporary political life, facebook him.

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Sunday, June 05, 2011


I have ambitions, and even great ones; however, they do not consist in material satisfactions like holding high places and gaining large sums of money. I seek the realization of these ambitions in the success of a great idea which, while profiting my country, will give me the keen satisfaction of a duty worthily accomplished. That has been the principle of my whole life. I acquired it while I was still quite young, and I shall continue to hold it until my dying breath.

Kemal Atatürk, in a letter to Corinne Lütfü

मेरी महत्वाकांक्षाएं हैं, और महान महत्वाकांक्षाएं भी हैं; लेकिन उनमें उच्च पद रखने या बहुत सारा पैसा पाने जैसे भौतिक संतोष शामिल नहीं हैं. मैं अपनी महत्वाकांक्षाओं की प्राप्ति एक ऐसे महान विचार की सफलता में देखता हूँ, जो मेरे देश को लाभान्वित करने के साथ साथ मुझको अपना कर्त्तव्य योग्यता से निपुण करने की संतुष्टि देगा. यही मेरे जीवन का सिद्धांत रहा है. इसे मैंने उस समय हासिल किया जब मैं काफी जवान था, और मैं इसे अपनी आखरी सांस तक मानता रहूँगा.

कमाल अतातुर्क, कोरीन लुत्फू को लिखे एक पत्र में  
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Thursday, May 19, 2011


Note: It gives me some satisfaction to note that in the 25 booths we visited during our Bastar Satyagraha last June (2010), the Congress candidate led by a total of 1256 votes. For me, personally, the battle in Bastar is not so much political as it is moral and ideological. This Report, however, focuses primarily on electoral issues.


For the Congress in Chhattisgarh, the Bastar LS bye-election, necessitated by the sudden demise of 4-term BJP MP Baliram Kashyap in April, presented its biggest problem as well as its greatest opportunity. We failed to form our government in the state primarily, if not solely, due to our near-total wipeout in the 12 seats of Bastar division both in 2003 (when we won 3 seats) and in 2008 (when we managed to win only 1 by a margin of about 100 votes). In fact, the last time Bastar voted for the Congress was 13 years ago, in 1998. Since then, the RSS-VHP-BJP troika, through its affiliate organizations vis-à-vis the (now) more than 500 Ekal Vidyalayas, 200 Saraswati Shishu Mandirs, 500 Vanvasi Kalyan Ashrams and 23 Salwa Judum camps, has, with the state administration’s active backing, penetrated the remotest parts of this predominantly tribal hinterland, and systematically succeeded in indoctrinating vast tracts of the population. The bye-election, therefore, gave us an opportunity to mobilize all our resources from across the state, and concentrate on salvaging as best as we could this most important constituency from the clutches of the state-sponsored saffron brigade.


Despite our defeat, it is important to consider the following, which, I hope, might give us cause for hope:

2.1 Unity, finally: Thanks to the efforts of BK Hariprasad, the newly appointed AICC GS, and Nand Kumar Patel, the newly nominated PCC president, the Congress was able to put up, with one regrettable (but understandable) exception, a brave and united front during the campaign. After a long time, all the 3 Big Leaders vis-à-vis Vidyacharan Shukla, Motilal Vora and Ajit Jogi, addressed public meetings jointly. Despite their health, both Vidyacharan Shukla and Ajit Jogi campaigned extensively for the Congress candidate: while the former travelled to parts as remote as Bhairamgarh and Bijapur, the latter took more than 60 public meetings, travelling no less than 6000 kilometers by road and helicopter. For the first time in 8 years, everybody- including the BJP- felt that the Congress was not giving a walkover but actually fighting the election.

2.2 Reduced margin despite higher polling: In the last 2 bye-elections, our margin of loss had more than doubled from 17000 to 35000 in Bhatgaon (January 2011), and from 5000 to 10000 in Sanjari Balod (March 2011). This time, however, we were actually able to reduce the margin from 140000 in 2004 and 102000 in 2009 to 89000 even though there was a 7% increase in polling percentage (from about 44% to more than 51%).

2.3 Number of booths won have doubled: In terms of total number of booths won by the Congress, the figure has almost doubled: from 126 in 2004 and 346 in 2009 to 559 in 2011. All said and done, this bye-election is the best fight Congress has put up against the BJP in Bastar in the past 13 years.

2.4 CPI vote-bank reduced by half: Even though the BJP had heavily funded the CPI candidate with the design to split the non-communal votes- for the first time, they had managed to open campaign offices in all assembly segments, put up hoardings and even take out newspaper advertisements soliciting votes- the CPI vote share was reduced by almost 40%, from almost 80000 in 2009 to 49000. In the future, it should be our strategy to target the CPI vote-pockets.

2.5 Dummy Kawasi takes 35000 votes: The dummy candidate with the same name as our candidate, who was mischievously fielded by the BJP to divert our votes, took about 35000 votes. Our margin, therefore, effectively narrows down to 54000 votes. (Compared to this, the 3 candidates fielded by us with the same first name as the BJP candidate managed to take about 20000 votes.)

2.6 Morale-booster for workers: During the past 8 years, the number of grassroots Congress workers in Bastar has come down dramatically, with at least 60% of them shifting to the BJP. (This was evident from the ‘List of Booth Level Workers’ submitted by the District Congress Committees to the Congress candidate.) The few remaining grassroots party workers were left to face the full brunt of BJP’s terror tactics, especially in the 2 constituencies represented by state ministers Kedar Kashyap (Narayanpur) and Lata Usendi (Kondagaon). Unfortunately, no party office-bearer- at the block, district or state levels- had, partly due to fear but mostly because of the pervading feeling of ‘Salwa Judum’ (amity between the BJP and Congress leadership), offered them support of any kind, leaving them feeling totally helpless and demoralized. This bye-election has, if nothing else, reassured them that they are not alone in their fight against the BJP.

2.7 Decline in pre-poll (as opposed to post-poll) rigging: Due to the high alertness of Congress workers, the level of booth-level rigging has come down significantly: LWE-effected booths that previously used to poll more than 80% votes, polled not more than 0-5 votes each. (This did not, however, prevent tampering of machines after the polling ended, with active complicity of top election officials. A video CD documenting this, shot in the mining township of Kirandul, has also been released to the Press.)


3.1 Large-scale Shifting of Polling Booths: More than 200 booths were shifted by the district administration at the last moment: citing ‘security reasons’, it was decided that no polling booths would be set-up in certain villages, and the villagers, if they wanted to vote, had to traverse anywhere between 25-90 kilometers to vote at the shifted booth. In several other cases, villages with as many as 4 booths (i.e., about 3000-4000 voters) were deprived of polling booths, and directed to cast their votes at smaller, remoter places. The only visible criteria for this last minute, haphazard shifting of booths was to make it next to impossible for traditionally Congress-minded villages to cast their votes. This effectively meant the disenfranchisement of more than 65% of the electorate- most, if not all, Congress-minded voters- of South Bastar (Konta, Bijapur and Dantewada assemblies).

3.2 Polling by helicopters: Polling parties were sent by helicopters to about 70 booths. While previously, these parties comprised of a presiding officer and at least 3 other officials, this time only 1 officer, i.e., the presiding officer, was sent. This is contrary to all electoral practice, and when we objected, we were told that this was being done ostensibly due to ‘shortage of helicopters’. Needless to say, the polling parties never reached their destinations and returned with EVMs stuffed in BJP’s favor.

3.3 Role of Naxalites, SPOs, Koya Commandos and Salwa Judum: As is their custom, the Naxalites gave a call for total boycott of the election. They also distributed leaflets with “death to Chidambram, death to Karma” slogans, and physically prevented party workers from taking part in the campaign and voters from casting their votes. Consequently, in South Bastar, voting took place predominantly in Salwa Judum camps situated alongside the state highways, where the Special Police Officers (SPOs) and Koya Commandos- the unlawful and out-of-control armed militias raised under the banner of Salwa Judum- not only prevented Congress workers from entering the camps- in Jangla Camp, they actually threw a disemboweled body in front of the camp’s gates to discourage Congress workers from going in- but also compelled inmates to vote for the BJP. Also, due to the continuing escalation in violence, there has been an exodus, particularly among the able-bodied youth, from South Bastar to neighboring states of Maharashtra, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh. All this has damaged us more than it has the BJP for the simple reason that people in the effected areas are/were traditionally Congress voters.

3.4 Money, Money, Money: Elsewhere, particularly in North Bastar, the BJP lured voters with what can only be described as ‘carpet bombardment of money’, offering as much as Rs. 1000 per vote. Not only this, truckloads of jewelry and saris were distributed among women voters; and liquor, as much as 200 gallon per booth, was offered to male voters by BJP workers. In the few instances where Congress workers opposed this, they were mercilessly beaten. (Such is their fear that they refuse even now to lodge police complaints against them.)

3.5 Misuse of administrative machinery: From the beginning, the BJP state government put everything it had into winning this election: at least 2 state ministers were personally stationed in each assembly segment, where they openly and brazenly directed officials, from the district to the panchayat levels, to work as agents of the BJP. Top-level district officials were personally present at ministers’ party meetings. Panchayat secretaries were instructed to take back ration cards from villagers with the threat that these would be returned only if the BJP won from their village. Mitanins (rural healthcare workers) were also roped in along with SHGs and Van Samitis (forest committees) to openly work for the BJP. The entire police machinery turned a blind-eye when BJP leaders, led by state ministers Kedar Kashyap and Lata Usendi, were physically terrorizing our workers. In Bacheli and Kirandul townships, the police physically removed all our polling agents from the booths, giving a free reign to the BJP. Excise officials actively distributed liquor for the BJP. Officials posted on election duty were personally handpicked by the BJP despite their dubious antecedents. They were asked to rig the elections by the Returning Officers themselves. We have submitted video footage of EVMs being tampered with openly in Kirandul, after polling had ended. The most obvious proof, however, in support of this contention is this: when polling ended on the eve of May 8, the administration announced a polling percentage of 40%; in the next 2 days, this increased to almost 55%.

3.6 Failure of ECI to Act: Despite our repeated complaints to ECI Observers, running into hundreds of pages supported with photographs and video footages, not one action was taken against the erring officials. This only seemed to embolden them in their blatant efforts to help the ruling party’s candidate. Copy of one such letter submitted to the ECI is reproduced below (see endnote).[1]

3.7 “Bhanpuri Syndrome”: Our maximum losses in this Lok Sabha were from the erstwhile assembly constituency of Bhanpuri: this is because ever since delimitation, the leaders of that erstwhile constituency are focusing only on Bastar assembly, leaving parts of it now in Narayanpur and Kondagaon assemblies totally neglected. Thus, even though we won from rest of Narayanpur and Kondagaon constituencies, our losses in the erstwhile regions of Bhanpuri assembly were so heavy as to cost us the entire assemblies by margins in excess of 14000.

3.8 Dummy Kawasi: The dummy candidate with the same name as our candidate fielded by the BJP to divert our votes took about 35000 votes. (Compared to this, the 3 candidates fielded by us with the same first name as the BJP candidate managed to take about 20000 votes.)

3.9 Failure to mobilize human resources statewide: While the BJP was able to mobilize all its resources- including manpower- from all across the state, this was not the case with the Congress. Despite the PCC chief’s clarion call to every Congress worker of the state to come to Bastar, very few actually showed up. With the exception of 16 MLAs (out of 39), none took up their allotted charges even though duties were assigned by the Election Committee to all of them. Likewise, the PCC chief issued a circular directing all BCC and DCC presidents to come, but less than 20% turned up. This may be partly due to fear of campaigning in a violence-prone region like Bastar, but it prevented us from realizing our fullest potential.


4.1 To begin, it is necessary to revamp the entire party organization in Bastar:
4.1.1 A separate Bastar Cell, with extraordinary powers, should be set up by the PCC with the explicit objective of preparing for the 2013 assembly elections.
4.1.2 Sector-wise meetings of workers should be organized within the next 30 days, preferably attended by the candidate or his duly authorized representative, to identify areas of weaknesses and strengths, and to discuss possible strategies for the future. Reports of these meetings should be duly filed with the Bastar Cell, along with updated Booth-wise list of party workers and supporters.
4.1.3 Disciplinary proceedings, beginning with serving of show-cause notices, should be initiated against all those against whom there are complaints of anti-party activities and sabotage.
4.1.4 “Indira Gandhi Shakti Kendras” comprising of no more than 15-20 polling booths should be set-up. Each IGSK shall be placed under the supervision of a Coordinator (sanyojak). He shall serve as a direct link between the Cell and the IGSK.
4.1.5 The IGSKs should be free to choose their own agenda, depending on local factors, and the Cell shall facilitate, fund and monitor their working.
4.1.6 All DCCs and BCCs in Bastar should be dissolved forthwith, and new committees appointed based solely on workers’ performance in the elections. This will send the message that those who work- and help the party win- get rewarded, while those who do not are punished. The new committees shall be placed under the Bastar Cell.

4.2 From a realistic viewpoint, it is preferable not to disperse our limited energy- and resources- on all the 12 assembly seats of Bastar, but instead to concentrate those energies and resources on a few chosen seats (5-6), based primarily on past election results. Thus the bulk of our focus should be on those seats where the margin of loss is manageable vis-à-vis Antagarh, Keshkal, Bhanupratappur, Bastar and Konta. Candidates for these seats should be decided and announced at least 18 months before the assembly election.

4.3 The party would have to clarify its stand on a number of issues affecting the people of Bastar, particularly Salwa Judum (SJ) and our policy towards LWE (Left Wing Extremism). The general feeling, both among the public as well as the Maoists, is that in simultaneously funding SJ and opposing it, we are indulging in double-speak.

4.4 Likewise, the role of the MHA, insofar as they seem to unconditionally back the policies of the state government, has to be more in tune with the line taken by the party at the state and local levels. For this, informal channels of communication need to be opened between them at the local level.

4.5 To check the rampant abuse of administrative machinery during elections in Bastar- more so, when the role of administration assumes a life-or-death significance for the voters- it is necessary to promulgate President’s Rule in the region, if not the state, at least 6 months before the assembly election. (God knows there are more than adequate grounds for doing so, given the total anarchy rampant in no less than 65% of Bastar's areas.)

4.6 The Union of India must, preferably through a senior level minister, announce a separate package for the development of Bastar. If not, then our ministers should at least be instructed to regularly visit the region, and take credit for the work already being done by the UPA for the people of Bastar- especially the food subsidy given by the Union as part of the Rs. 2 per kilo rice scheme (for which the state government has managed to take full credit)- while also not failing to criticize the rampant corruption prevalent in the state government.

4.7 To put an end to the mass-exodus of party workers to the BJP, it is necessary to strengthen grassroots workers by facilitating them to secure works from such PSUs as NMDC, Bhilai Steel Plant and NTPC, and Railways as well as in other projects implemented by the central government. Currently, all this work, under influence of the local and state administrations, is being awarded to BJP workers.

4.8 Likewise, it would be prudent for the central revenue authorities (income tax department etc.) to look into cases of disproportionate assets acquired by BJP ministers and their supporters, and take suitable steps against them. This will, at the very least, help reduce the rampant use of money-power by them during the election.

4.9 One of the lessons that we have learnt the hard way in Bastar is that the tribal votes are not with the tribals, but with the far more influential non-tribals. They are all with the BJP today. This will have to change: so instead of talking only about Adivasis, it would be more prudent to start speaking in terms of the more inclusive “Bastaria”. (In this election, we tried this strategy, and were able to substantially reduce our loss in Jagdalpur City Corporation from 27000 to about 1900 votes.)

4.10 Inclusion of forest-dwelling communities as STs: By an administrative oversight, a vast number of forest-dwelling communities of Bastar, such as Maharas and Halba-Telgas who number almost 300,000, have been excluded from the list of Scheduled Tribe. This has had the affect of depriving them from all schemes intended for the welfare of STs. This needs to be corrected, and due credit taken by the UPA for it.


After our debacle in the Bhatgaon, Balod and Bastar bye-elections, the general feeling among Congresspersons in Chhattisgarh is that the prospects of our returning to power, at least in 2013, are next to impossible. Urgent- and bold- steps are therefore called for. The bitter truth is that without Bastar, we are, quite simply, out of the game. As this Report has shown, all is not lost, and with a little foresight and a lot of political will, we can still win the Bastaria's trust.






The Chief Election Commissioner

Election Commission Of India

New Delhi

Dated: 23.04.2011


This is to thank the Commission for the early and positive response sent to me by return no. 99/EPS/2011/475 dated 15.4.2011.

As you know Bastar Parliamentary Constituency has several special features and factors, which make the conduct of free & fair polls extremely difficult. I am describing them below:

1. The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India has come down very heavily upon the formation and activities of SPOs & ‘Koya Commandos’ in Bastar. The SPOs are armed with guns and have no police or military training whatsoever. They are being paid every month from the state exchequer. As a result they have been acting as armed agents of the state government and defying law with impunity. Allegations of murder, rape, loot and arson against them are very common. Obviously during the election if they are allowed to move and act as freely as they do, they will coerce innocent tribal voters either to vote for the ruling party in the state (BJP) or face severe punishment by them. Obviously the presence of the SPOs and the Koya Commandos has made free and fair polls an impossibility in this Lok Sabha Constituency. It is therefore requested that the State Government should be directed to physically keep the SPOs & Koya Commandos out of this constituency during the period of campaign. Those who are registered as voters of this constituency could be permitted to exercise their right to vote through postal ballot.

2. Almost the entire constituency is engulfed by the left wing extremism (LWE) and there are incidents of violence everyday. It therefore becomes impossible to travel by road in most part of the constituency. As a result, in large number of places, the polling parties are airlifted by helicopters to places near polling booths. Massive and one-sided rigging takes place at that place because the polling parties and the security personnel at that level are motivated by the senior state officials to do so. These parties do not bother to go to their polling booth and they obviously do not want to take the risk of travelling by road. It therefore suits them all to conduct false polling at the place where they land by the helicopter.
The commission may have to consider a way out to stop rigging of the votes at that level. My suggestion is that helicopters should also carry representatives of national parties with them so that they remain present all through out the day of the polling and the entire polling process gets completed in their presence. The other alternative would be to postpone the election of these booths by at least a week. In the mean time, the representatives of all the political parties can reach these places and the election process should take place in their presence in relation to these booths.

3. Though the state government had been claiming before the Supreme Court that the infamous Salwa Judum camps have almost been closed, the fact is that according to official figures (tabled before the state Assembly) about 27000 people are still residing in these camps. They are continuously under police protection and they depend on the state government for everything. In these conditions, it is impossible for them to vote for anybody except the ruling party in the state. It is reliably learnt that they are not even allowed to vote and all their votes are polled by the in-charge state officials themselves. There is absolutely no fair play and camp inmate-voters have no independence to exercise their votes. Thus, in this case, there is almost cent percent rigging of votes. These voters can exercise their votes freely only if they are taken back to their villages, if needed under police protection, at least about two days before the actual date of polling. In their village and at their home they can exercise their votes in the polling booth prepared for them. The other alternative is to postpone the poll for the Salwa Judum Camp voters at least by a week. In the meantime the representatives of the political parties could be permitted to interact with them and be present on the day of poll so that the possibility of rigging of votes is reduced.

4. A few officers at the senior level posted in the districts are openly and blatantly working for the ruling party in the state. They include the following:

Serial No.



Code of Conduct violation


Mr  NLS Ken

Collector, Narayanpur

He sanctioned and
personally distributed funds from the ‘
Mantri Swechha Anudan’ (Minister
Voluntary Fund) and MLA Development Fund of state minister and local MLA,
Mr Kedar Kashyap
7.4.2011, well after mode code of conduct came
into effect on 31.3.2011.


Mr Prakash

SDM, Narayanpur

He was present with the
Mr Kedar Kashyap, on 20.4.2011 at Narayanpur.


Mr Rajat

Collector, Bijapur

He was personally
attending to state ministers,
Mr Brijmohan Agrawal and Mr Kedar Kashyap,
during their campaigning in
Bijapur on 19.4.2011.


Mr Komal

SI, Narayanpur

He was present with the
Mr Kedar Kashyap, on 20.4.2011 at Narayanpur.


Mr Rajendra

Dist. Project

As head of Rajiv Gandhi Shiksha Mission, he is actively and openly directing shikshakarmis to work for the BJP.


Mr P Dayanand

CEO, Jila
Panchayat, Dantewada

A close relative of BJP
Mr Murli Manohar Joshi, he is brazenly directing all shikshakarmis to work for the BJP.


Mr Lalit

CO, Chhindgarh

He is a close relative to Mr Dinesh Kashyap (BJP
candidate) and his brother
Mr Kedar
Kashyap (state minister).


Mr SL Dewangan

CO, Sukma

He accompanied Mr Kedar Kashyap
(state minister and brother of BJP candidate) to the
Mela on 20.4.2011.


Mr Santesh

CO, Konta

He personally instructed Mr Bhima, sarpanch
Chintalnar, to work for the BJP, failing which
he was threatened with dismissal.


Mr Ajay Pal

Tahsildar, Sukma

He accompanied Mr Kedar Kashyap
(state minister and brother of BJP candidate) to the
Mela on 20.4.2011.


Mr L N Patel

Acting CO, Koakunda Janpad & Zonal Officer

He is a grade III
officer, but due to his service to the BJP, was made acting CO of
Janpad, and now has also been assigned duties as Zonal
Officer so that he can rig the election in its favor.


Mr SK Deep

BO, Konta

His wife is the Nagar Panchayat President of Konta,
elected from the BJP.


Mr R C Rana

Block Resource

He was present at the BJP
Workers’ Meeting presided by
Mr Ramesh Bais, MP, at Geedam on


Mr Barman

Head, Mitatnin, Bastar Div.

He is using his office to
organize meetings of
Mitanins for BJP state
ministers and leaders.


Mr Ajay Sahu

Project Officer ICDS, Kondagaon

He was present in the
local minister, Ms.
Lata Usendi’s
public meetings at
Baniyagaon and Dahikonga on 22.4.2011.


Mr RS Tandon

Tahsildar, Kondagaon

He was present in the
local minister, Ms.
Lata Usendi’s
public meetings at
Baniyagaon and Dahikonga on 22.4.2011.


Mr Neelkant
Sardul, Mr Nirmal Sardul, Mr Shiv Prakash Sharma, Mr UPT Peter, Mr Tahir Khan

Shikshak, Kondagaon

They were present in the
local minister, Ms.
Lata Usendi’s
public meetings at
Baniyagaon and Dahikonga on 22.4.2011.


Mr Ashwini

TI, Madded

He has been transferred 6
months ago to
Korba but continues to stay here. He
openly told
Chandu Suddhu,
sarpanch, Kamalapalli,
to work for the BJP, failing which he would be arrested ‘as a


Mr Satish

TI, Madded

He has been transferred 6
months ago to Raipur but continues to stay here. He is openly telling
influential persons to work for the BJP, failing which they would be arrested
‘as a


Mr Nilin

Teacher, and acting i/c of SHGs, Nagar Nigam, Jagdalpur

He is directing all SHGs
to vote for the BJP, and be present at their rallies, failing which he is
threatening to withdraw funding.

The Commission should immediately verify their credentials and transfer them temporarily from this area so that they do not abuse their offices to campaign for the BJP. This list is not exhaustive and based only on preliminary reports. Our party would be updating this information and would be sending it to you from time to time.

5. The ruling party in the state depends heavily on the use of money. They take undue advantage of abject poverty in the Bastar region and virtually purchase votes of the poor and innocent people. Commission will have to take extra precaution to prevent distribution of money, distribution of jewelry and distribution of other articles of use among the tribals. Similarly very large quantities of Indian made foreign liquor (IMFL) are distributed to the voters during the period of campaign. All liquor contractors/ vendors are under the state government. They provide free and abundant quantities of liquor to them, which is distributed by their party workers, and even government officials, in almost every town and village in the constituency. The Commission should keep special vigilance in this regard because state officials not only allow this but actively abet it.

6. Massive misuse of Government machinery by BJP party functionaries has already begun. The state ministers are openly taking meetings of grass root level government servants and instructing them to work for their party. For example, in Narayanpur district headquarter on 20.4.2011, two state ministers, Mr Rajesh Munat and Mr Kedar Kashyap (brother of BJP candidate) took a meeting of shikshakarmis and mitanins (village level women health workers) at the local rest house and instructed them to work for the party. Similarly, in Kondagaon assembly segment the local minister Ku Lata Usendi has been taking meetings if Anganbadi workers, Mitanins and Mahila Vikas departmental officials and instructing them to work for her party. Large-scale misuse of women self-help groups (SHGs) is also being engineered by ministers to ensure women voters are adversely influenced. It is suggested that during the campaign periods all such meetings and gatherings especially of SHGs must be stopped by the Commission.

My party has full faith in the Commission that it will take all possible necessary action to remedy the situation.
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