Foreign diplomats invited to observe Gujarat polls mysteriously disinvited

Western diplomats were invited by the Gujarat govt to visit Gujarat during elections. But suddenly a week before the 1st phase of polling, the invitations were withdrawn without any explanation

Photo courtesy: Twitter
Photo courtesy: Twitter

NH Web Desk

While the social media is abuzz with tweets urging authorities to confirm if the Gujarat government has started destroying files, specially in the Chief Minister’s Office, after Patidar leader Hardik Patel’s remark that the ruling party in Gujarat is so unsure of its victory that it has started destroying files containing sensitive information, another curious piece of information has emerged.

According to a column by senior journalist Arati Jerath, western diplomats posted in New Delhi were invited by the Gujarat government to visit the state during the Assembly elections as observers of the election process in Indian democracy. But suddenly a week before the first phase of polling in Gujarat, the invitations were withdrawn without any explanation.

The invitations were received by the countries of European Union and it implied that they were invited to witness the Narendra Modi’s strength and influence in his home state.

This cancellation of the invitation has sparked off speculations whether the BJP is anxious about the fact that it may not do as well in the elections as expected. Otherwise why would a strong party confident of its victory in the state election be wary of foreign observers.

It raises certain other pertinent questions too.

  • First and foremost is, should a state government invite foreign observers to a process which is integral to the nation’s democracy? The poll observers are usually appointed by the Election Commission and they are Indian citizens.
  • Was some amount of public fund earmarked for entertaining these observers? If yes, then was the EC notified about it?
  • Has any other state of India ever officially invited foreign observers to witness polling in action?

If reports are to be believed, then two of the European countries had decided to send their observers any way at their own expense to Gujarat to assess the popular sentiment in Gujarat.

Polling is taking place across 93 constituencies spread over 14 districts of northern and central Gujarat on Thursday. The first phase of polling for 89 seats in Saurashtra and South Gujarat took place on December 9. The results will come along with that of Himachal Pradesh on December 18. A total of 851 candidates are in the fray in Gujarat Assembly election which has seen the one of the bitterest election campaigns by two major political parties. The speeches of PM Narendra Modi bordered on vilification and allegations on Congress leaders while the Congress hit back with a series of questions on the functioning of the state BJP government in the last 22 years.

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