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Impact of Andhra Pradesh Election Watch 1999

 

FDR/Lok Satta undertook the path breaking Election Watch (EW) Activity in 1999 for the state assembly and parliamentary elections in Andhra Pradesh. Since then we have come a long way and evolved as the largest people's movement for governance and electoral reforms in the country. Many of our successes are well known to you. In many ways, these successes have been built on the solid foundations of the Election Watch movement in 1999, and the popular mobilization based on that effort.

Here is a quick recap of some of our major accomplishments on the electoral reform front as outlined below :

ECriminalisation of Politics Curbed
EPolitical funding Reform Law Enacted
EDisclosures of antecedants made mandatory
ENeed to make Voter Registration Process transparent recognised
ECommon Platforms and debates gain popularity

Criminalisation of Politics Curbed   Political funding Reform Law Enacted

Thanks to FDR/Lok Satta's efforts, criminalization of polity is arrested in AP, though not reversed. The parties stopped entertaining any new criminal elements though the entrenched criminals continue to be in the fray as they have struck deep political roots. For instance, a notorious gangster, Srisailam China Yadav, joined the ruling party with great fanfare in early 1999. He took out a procession with 5000 people and 600 cars, and the rally was flagged off by the then Home Minister, and escorted by a minister from Hyderabad. The party president personally received the mafia don and embraced him into his party.But for the Election Watch work, he would have been nominated and elected, and almost certainly made a minister. In this case, he was denied nomination because of public pressure. Similarly, during the local government elections held in 2000, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) decided to field Kapatralla Venkatappiah Naidu, a notorious criminal as candidate for the Zilla Parishad Chairman of Kurnool. Lok Satta launched a major campaign against his candidacy in the media and owing to our pressure, he was dropped as a candidate. That was an unprecedented victory for us and the power of civil society advocacy in influencing the behaviour of political parties was amply demonstrated by our success.

The credibility of Election Watch and the civil society initiative is further enhanced as people find that those listed by Lok Satta in 1999 were later implicated in serious public fraud. For instance, Krishna Yadav, who was listed then, later became a minister, and was recently arrested for his involvement in the Telgi stamp scam.(Click here to view the list)

 

 

An excellent legislation that has the potential to change very nature of our polity- the Political Funding Reform Law was enacted recently. FDR/Lok Satta has done tremendous spadework behind the scenes to make this a reality. The May-June 2001 issue of Lok Satta Times outlined FDR/Lok Satta's advocacy in this field and those proposals formed the basis of the new law. Thanks to this new law, for the fist time tax incentives are provided for contributions to political parties along with free media time.

Need to make Voter Registration Process transparent recognised
FDR/Lok Satta's surveys established beyond doubt the defects plaguing our voter registration system. EC has undertaken a summary revision of electoral rolls across the country, which is currently under way. Now for the first time, voter lists are read out in gram sabhas and at the ward level and bulk registrations by recognized political parties and welfare associations are accepted. Owing to our advocacy, the department of posts and the EC have agreed in principle to make the post office a nodal agency for voter registration. In the last month, the EC has formally met the postal department and agreed to use the post offices for voter registration. It will probably be an year before the decision comes into effect fully. But an important step has been taken to make voter registration transparent, accessible and citizen-friendly, and to promote clean elections.

The New Indian Express, 30 December 2003

Disclosures of antecedants made mandatory Common Platforms and debates gain wide acceptance

The March 13th 2003, judgment of the Supreme Court mandating the disclosure of criminal and financial antecedents of all candidates contesting for electoral office is directly a result of FDR/Lok Satta's and its civil society partners' efforts. In effect, what was a Herculean effort with the citizens' support to collect antecedents of candidates has become voters' entitlement under Article 19 of the Constitution.

The Hindu, 13 March 2003

 


The common platforms and candidate debates organized by FDR/Lok Satta have become widely popular and the Election Commission (EC) and electronic media are considering adopting a similar format as they are mandated by law to give free air-time to recognized political parties on an equitable basis.
   

 

 

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