Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The Afzal Amanullah bombshell

In a report submitted to the Election Commission, Afzal Amanullah, a BIhar cadre IAS officer and a special observer to the Commission, explained the ways in which the Communists "scientifically" rig elections. The predictible reaction of communist leader Ashok Bhattacharya : “Who is Amanullah now? He is no longer EC observer. Why should we care for what he has submitted in its report? It’s all rubbish.’’"

What they didn’t want you to see: EC on how Left ‘rigs’ Bengal polls (The Indian Express, Dec 18,2005)


The Election Commission has kept it a top secret—a 10-page report by its Special Observer Afzal Amanullah on what he calls “organised rigging” by “a particular political party” during the 2004 Lok Sabha polls in West Bengal. The reference clearly is to the CPM-led Left Front.
Following are Amanullah’s key findings and the recommendations:


• To detect exactly whether a vote is being cast in favour of a particular party a “strong scent” is put by a loyal voter on the party’s key in the electronic voting machine when he goes to cast his vote. Everyone who votes after him and chooses the same key has the “scent” transferred to his/her figure besides the indelible ink — the official mark of adult franchise. This ensures tracking of who voted for whom.

• A particular party (an apparent reference to the CPM) “traditionally jams the booths’’ to ‘‘discourage’’ genuine unattached voters from voting.


• In Opposition strongholds, short of booth-capturing, the voting process is “slowed down” by deliberately planting voters in the line whose records are suspect. This is done to hold up the queue and bring down the voting percentage.

• Another disruptive method: strategically placing persons in the queue who are “challenged voters” (those who either don’t have their names on the electoral list or the correct identity proof) at regular intervals.

• EC’s recommendation: these voters should be isolated and not allowed to delay the process which “has to take place at normal speed.’’


• On ‘‘padding and manipulation’’ of the state’s electoral rolls, Amanullah claims people have no access to rolls. Prominent public display of rolls are required so that voters can object to ‘‘deletion’’ and ‘‘revision.’’

• He suggests that EC officials should have mobile phones and these numbers should be made public so that anyone can call in with complaints.

• In each and every polling booth, Amanullah found that local party workers are given the task of ensuring deletion of a limited (pre-determined) number of votes, minimum 40. Thereafter, if a hue and cry is raised, some deleted names are restored, but never all of them.


• Even polling booths, the report states, are chosen to benefit certain groups. He suggests that the EC needs to ‘‘look at all the booths in the whole of the state,’’ including the inside of the polling booth where the voting compartment is placed. Secrecy of polling cannot be maintained unless ‘‘polling compartments’’ are put ‘‘away from windows’’ or places from where a voter’s choice is visible.

• Home Guards not in “active service for five years, should not be called for election duty.’’ Such persons can be put under constraints as they are involved in party work.


• Citing unionisation of the non-IPS police force, Amanullah says that as 90% of the unions in West Bengal owe allegiance to a particular political party, these people cannot be allocated election duty.

• Citing the same reason, Amanullah advises against using “primary and secondary school teachers from West Bengal.’’



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