PUCL, July 2002

In the absence of normalcy, assembly elections should not be held now

Also see, Petition to the Chief election Commissioner, July 2002

22nd July 2002

To,
The Election Commissioner
New Delhi


We the activists of PUCL-Vadodara and Vadodara Shanti Abhiyan
urge the Election Commission to consider this submission for
immediate action.

We demand that state assembly election in Gujarat must not be
held early, but as scheduled in Feb-March 2003 only.

State Chief Minister Narendra Modi has rushed to dissolve
state assembly to pressurise election commission for early Polls in
the state with malafied political intentions. This directly violates
the democratic rights of the people for a fair and free elections, as
state is still not out of the ominous hang-over of recent violence.
We appeal that following points be taken into consideration
before deciding the schedule of the elections in the state.

It is common knowledge that Narendra Modi's government is implicated
in the violence that has engulfed Gujarat since February 27, 2002.
However it is only now that Modi has announced his decision to
dissolve the Assembly. His decision to hold elections and seek the
mandate of the people is claimed to be on moral grounds, to vindicate
his governmentís position during the violence. If that was the case,
then he should surely have resigned when the NHRC and many other
bodies indicted his government and held him responsible for the
carnage. However , responsibility for actions can only be decided in
a court of law and not through an electoral mandate. The fact that he
has chosen to resign only at this point proves that he has done so
only with an idea to save his party in power, desperately as any more
delay may expose his involvement in violence all the more.

An abnormal situation now prevails in Gujarat, where thousands of
people continue to live in relief camps in Ahmedabad, Baroda, Kheda,
Dahod and Panchmahals still waiting to be rehabilitated. Apart from
this, several people continue to reside with relatives and even those
who have returned experience great insecurity. In the absence of
normalcy, we believe that elections should not be held at least
before February 2003.

Moreover, we believe the following steps should be taken to ensure
free and fair elections:

  • Modi's government should not continue as caretaker government
    as NHRC and other bodies have indicted it for inaction/ineffective
    action and willful connivance during the violence.
  • S. S. Bhandhari, Governor of Gujarat, who has a long
    association with the RSS is subject to doubts about his objectivity
    and impartiality hence he must be replaced.
  • President's rule should be imposed to ensure smooth and fair
    functioning of the electoral process, with a competent bureaucrat to
    head the administration known for total objectivity.
  • Those making public statements, whether during the violence
    or after, which cause disaffection and enmity between communities
    should be debarred from contesting election.

We urge the Election Commission to make its own assessment, keeping
the current situation in mind and assure the people, who nurse
grievances and doubts about the present rulers, can hope for fair and
free election.

[KIRIT BHATT]
PRESIDENT
PEOPLE'S UNION FOR CIVIL LIBERTIES, VADODARA

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