Civil society groups pledge to stand vigil over vote counting process

The groups plan to set up a 'Vigilant Voter Task Force' on counting day

Representative image of a vote counting centre (photo: National Herald archives)
Representative image of a vote counting centre (photo: National Herald archives)

NH Digital

Civil society groups have announced a 'Citizens Vigil' to monitor the vote-counting process next week for the 18th Lok Sabha elections, which began on 19 April. The counting of votes will start on 4 June.

The statement from the groups said that the ongoing elections have been marked by an absence of 'exemplary conduct' from a statutory body like the Election Commission of India (ECI). The statement said they held two meetings of civil society groups and political parties in Bengaluru and Delhi this month.

“A well- structured Citizens Vigil will be organised and is being announced that enables a) any malpractices in the counting process b) misconduct by officials or politicians in the polling process to be promptly documented and disseminated as also a thorough follow-up initiated,” read the statement.

The groups plan to set up a 'Vigilant Voter Task Force' on counting day. The groups said they will work with political parties from the opposition to involve Counting Agents in ensuring a methodical counting of votes.

The groups will ensure the vigilant task force on 4 June to work closely with political parties from the Opposition to motivate Counting Agents to ensure a methodical, step-by-step counting process that is not rushed through by any intimidatory and bullying tactics of by the regime.

Citizens will be mobilised across the country in sensitive booths to ensure that the vote-counting process is by the law and rule book, free and fair. This citizens’ involvement, Ginti ki Chaukidaari, will be visible state-wise outside counting stations.

Sveral activists including Syeda Hamid, Parakala Prabhakar, Sudhir Vombatkere, Dhananjay, President of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union (JNUSU), Hannan Mollah of the CPI-M and Darshan Pal, Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) have also signed a statement.

The statement highlights that the entire period of the 18th Lok Sabha election, particularly after the declaration of polls and the operation of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) that has been marked by a hitherto unprecedented violation of the Constitution, Indian law and the MCC and also blatant instances of evident malpractices in electioneering.

“There is genuine apprehension and fear that these levels of structured manipulations will continue both during the counting process and thereafter, failing to respect the mandate of the people,” the groups added.

“To ensure that this is functional and effective four helpline numbers (two for North India and two for South India will be set up) to record and respond to complaints that come in from the ground. The Helpline Numbers will be operationalised shortly and widely publicised,” said the group.

Additionally, they pointed out that this exercise was to exercise the democratic and peaceful right of the Indian people mandated in the Indian Constitution granted under Articles 324-326 that they were seeking to exercise their involvement and ensure their voice.  

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