Police, state out to ensure largest margin of victory for Amit Shah, says complaint

In letter to CEC, rights activist points to the use of official machinery by the BJP in Gandhinagar constituency

Amit Shah files his nomination from Gandhinagar for the Lok Sabha election 2024 (photo: PTI)
Amit Shah files his nomination from Gandhinagar for the Lok Sabha election 2024 (photo: PTI)

NH Digital

Observers deployed by the Election Commission of India (ECI) and the Gujarat Police which has been reporting to the commission for the past month have failed to ensure a level playing field, alleges a complaint addressed to the chief election commissioner (CEC).

In a sensational letter to the CEC, human rights activist Shabnam Hashmi has accused that the state machinery is being misused and top officials are campaigning on behalf of a candidate (Union home minister Amit Shah). “Are they above the law and have instructions to violate their Constitutional duty blatantly and with impunity?” she asks.

Hashmi has urged the CEC to order an inquiry and take immediate steps to stop harassment of voters, community and political leaders by the local state machinery.

The first-person account from state capital Gandhinagar suggests that blatant use of state machinery and intimidation by the police to ensure that Shah wins by the "highest margin in electoral history" have been ignored by the ECI.

The letter to the CEC draws his attention to the following serious breaches:

1. Police are calling up people in Gandhinagar and advising them against attending road shows by Congress candidate Sonal Patel or campaigning for her.

2. The calls have gone out from officers in-charge of police stations, the local crime branch, an ACP, and in one case even an IG (inspector-general).

3. Threats are being made by the police, their nature depending upon the called individual's stature. Some have been threatened with new cases or reopening of old cases, or turning them into bigger offences.

4. Those with some standing in the community have been coerced into filing nominations as independent candidates or from several opposition parties to cut into Muslim and Dalit votes.

5. While some were told not to campaign for Congress, others were told to remain at home and eat chicken and fish (zaroorat hogi to bhijwa doonga – if you need I will send).

6. Money is being offered openly. Some senior leaders were told – nishkriya ho jao, kyon panga le rahe ho, tumhari umeedwar to jeetegi nahi…Amit bhai desh ke bade neta hain, unka sapna hai poore desh men sabse zyada margin se jeetne ka, unki ichcha ko poora karna hai. Rough translation: stop trying, your candidate won't win anyway...Amit bhai is a big leader, it's his dream to win by the highest margin in the country, we must fulfil his desire.

7. In one Assembly segment, all senior community leaders were called and told they would have to work for Amit bhai. "Tumhare yahan se vote nahi nikalta hai. Is baar peti mein se vote nahi nikla to yahan ka koi kaam nahi hoga, samajh lo (no votes come from your area; if that happens this time, no work will be done for you).

8. Chairpersons and secretaries of various cooperative bodies including cooperative banks, milk cooperatives, APMC, purchase unions, GSC bank etc. were summoned and have been instructed to campaign for Amit Shah.

9. Students in a college in Ghatlodiya were told that everyone had to join Amit Shah’s roadshow on Thursday. When some students objected, they were told they would be failed in the internal exam if they did not comply.

10. Congress workers are being warned not to put up banners. Congress banners have been removed from several places.

Hundreds of hoardings with images of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya can be seen bearing texts like '500 varsh baad bhavya mandir (revered temple after 500 years)', 'Shri Ram mandir — kamal ka button dabao, Bhajpa ko jitao (press the lotus button, help the BJP win)' etc. No action has been taken by the ECI to stop the party seeking votes using religion and religious symbols.

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Published: 19 Apr 2024, 2:52 PM