- Training of Trainers,
resource persons and volunteers
- Voter registration
and Electoral rolls revision
- Campaign against
- Voter Awareness
- Debates between
- Pre and Post
of the key activities proposed to be undertaken as part
of APEW'04 are outlined below:
of Trainers, resource persons and volunteers
have already initiated the process of involving Lok Satta
volunteers across the state in the electoral rolls revision
process, which was held between 27th November-5th December.
From among them, we propose to train 50 Senior-trainers
for the larger EW effort. We will conduct a 2-day training
session for the trainers (scheduled to be held in Warangal
on the 20th and 21st of December). These trainers in turn
will train 294 constituency coordinators, one for each assembly
constituency. We are also aiming to train 80 -100 volunteers
(total 25,000) in each assembly constituency to implement
various EW activities. The training of volunteers at the
grassroots level will be undertaken as part of the Active
Citizen Training programme.
registration and Electoral rolls revision
Election Commission is undertaking summary revision of voter
rolls across the country between the 27th November and 15th
of December. Volunteers of Lok Satta are assisting the voters
and officials in the registration and revision process across
AP and in fact this effort is already underway. We are aiming
to set up help booths in at least 600 mandals spread across
the state, which will be manned by Lok Satta volunteers.
This effort will be undertaken entirely with volunteer support
and FDR funds.
Screening of potential candidates for criminal/corrupt record
is an activity that had the greatest impact on public imagination
during our 1999 EW effort. We propose to undertake a similar
effort this time also, but with a few critical changes.
Earlier, we collected information on criminal antecedents
of candidates and made it public and also made a plea to
the parties not to field any candidates with criminal record.
It did have a significant impact as the major parties did
drop a significant number of candidates. As a result no
new candidates entered the political arena, even though
entrenched candidates who have struck deep political roots
continued to be in the fray. This time, we propose to go
one step ahead and ensure that such entrenched candidates
with criminal/corrupt record are not fielded by major parties
and thereby reverse the process of criminalization. We will
caution the parties well in advance that if they field any
candidates with a criminal record, we will ask the people
not to vote for them. Given FDR/Lok Satta's clout and support
base in the state, we are confident that the parties will
respond to our notice positively. The various tasks associated
with this activity are publicity seeking information on
criminal record of candidates, airing radio and TV messages,
screening of collected information etc.
to use the following channels for collecting information
of candidates' criminal antecedents:
the wide newspaper network in the state.
Solicit information from the public through PO Box
confidential sources in police and government.
committee consisting of eminent jurists, former police
officials and civil society activists will evaluate the
information collected. The following will be the criteria
for evaluating the criminal record of candidates:
in any case
framed by a magistrate
sheet and/or History Sheet
of charges, or closure of a rowdy sheet etc. by the government
without any explanation, proving a malafide intent during
the past 7 years.
use of force in government or private tenders
cases of settlement of land or other disputes by force
and forcible occupation of land.
to financial institutions or role in collapse of urban
co-op banks, chit funds or other financial institutions
(including dependent members of the family).
Punishment awarded while in government for corruption
or malfeasance, or pending disciplinary proceedings.
by statutory committee of enquiry.
information so collected will be collated in a proper format
and after appropriate screening by the committee will be
sent to the political parties and also disseminated to the
District level public meetings
to adopt a multi-pronged approach in our efforts to reverse
the criminalization process and focus people's attention
on the larger electoral and governance reform goals. We
intend to do this through a combination of mass contact
programmes, cultural performances and media capsules. As
part of this effort, senior functionaries of FDR/Lok Satta
will hold public meetings in all the 23 districts of the
state. The mass communication and cultural performances
are elaborated in the subsequent section.
Voter Awareness campaign
to undertake a massive voter awareness campaign with the
following specific aims:
encourage voters to go out and vote - this will be done
primarily through public broadcasting messages in various
b. Encouraging people not to vote for criminal candidates
- as outlined earlier, this will be the core focus of the
campaign and will be done through a variety of mass communication
c. Asking people not to sell their votes - one of the paradoxes
of Indian polity is that the voter is seeking money to vote
and the politicians are compelled to buy their votes. This
is being done as the voter largely feels that no matter
who wins, he is ending up losing and therefore he might
as well maximize his short-term gains. We will endeavour
to show the voter the link between his vote and well-being
and make him realize the importance his vote.
d. Create awareness about tendered vote procedure - thanks
to Lok Satta's advocacy, the State Election Commission has
made repoll mandatory (during the local government elections
in 2000) if tendered votes in any polling booth exceed 2
% of the votes cast. We will create awareness on this procedure
and ask people to exercise this option, in case, someone
else has already cast their vote.
e. Set the agenda for good governance through Right to Information,
Citizen's Charters, Empowerment of Local Governments and
Local Courts. As you are aware, the union government has
recently enacted a law on Right to Information. The law
is yet to be implemented as the appropriate rules are not
framed. Thanks to FDR/Lok Satta's advocacy citizen's charters
with compensation were introduced for the first time in
the country in case of the municipalities. Subsequently,
the government has introduced similar charters in other
departments. Thanks to the massive campaign launched by
Lok Satta for local government empowerment, the government
was forced to concede our demands and has initiated measures
for substantial devolution. We drafted a model legislation
for local courts and sent it to the government for its consideration.
On all these issues we aim to create public awareness.
these issues, we propose to print posters, pamphlets, produce
videos and radio messages for public broadcasting. We already
have some videos from the 1999 effort and we will produce
a few more to suit the current requirements. In addition,
we propose to organize 1-2 cultural performances on the
above issues in each constituency. The cultural performances
will be funded through the Active Citizen's Training programme,
which is already supported by the Trust.
Debates between candidates
Common platforms at the assembly constituency level
biggest chunk of support we are seeking is for this specific
activity. Similar to our earlier efforts, we will endeavour
to bring all major contesting candidates in at least 250
constituencies onto a common platform to debate issues of
public concern. In a majority of the constituencies these
debates will be broadcast live on local cable channels.
In the event that the parliamentary elections are held simultaneously,
we will try to hold common platforms in all the 42 parliamentary
Rationale for conducting common platforms:
To drive home the point that no matter which party or candidate
wins, the focus should be on good governance.
ii.) Highlight issues of good governance such as local government
empowerment, local courts, right to information, citizen's
iii.) Introduce the idea of accountability of public servants
to citizens. Normally, during campaign time politicians
are used to making all sorts of promises to the people,
knowing fully well that very rarely they are asked to stick
to their promises. Therefore a majority of them got used
to making irresponsible promises on poll-eve as no one holds
them accountable. We will aim to caution the candidates
in public that we will watch their performance and hold
them accountable and also create in people's minds that
it is their duty to keep watch on their representatives'
iv.) Change the nature of public discourse and campaigns.
In light of the recently enacted law on Political Funding
(copy enclosed), all electronic media, including cable and
private channels are mandated to provide free air-time to
all recognized political parties on an equitable basis.
We wish to use this golden opportunity and promote the idea
of such debates on a national scale. In fact we have interacted
with the EC and senior officials of Doordarshan and they
responded favourably to our suggestion.
this exercise, FDR/Lok Satta aims to set an example that
could be emulated across the country and bring a fundamental
transformation in the way campaigns are held and also impact
the very nature of public discourse.
Chief Ministerial debate
the 99'EW effort, even though we tried to hold a debate
between the two main chief ministerial candidates, we were
able to get only the senior functionaries of the parties
and not the main candidates themselves. Even then, the debate
was a resounding success and was broadcast live by all local
cable channels in Hyderabad city. This time we will again
endeavour to bring the main chief ministerial candidates
and hold a debate largely on the lines of US presidential
Monitoring of polling process
polling day, Lok Satta volunteers will set up help booths
at major polling centers and recognized trouble spots and
assist the voters and officials in the polling process.
This activity will primarily be driven through voluntary
efforts, local resources and in kind support.
Pre and Post polling surveys
Pre- poll surveys of voter rolls
are aware, the voter rolls in the country are deeply flawed.
As opposed to many countries where the responsibility for
registering to vote lies with the voter, in India, it is
left to the Election Commission to prepare a list of all
eligible voters and delete the names of those who either
moved out of the locality or are dead. Given the apathy
of the government machinery, and the inaccessible nature
of the voter registration process, over a period of time
huge discrepancies crept into the voter rolls. The errors
in the rolls are primarily of two kinds, I) errors of omission,
i.e. names of people that ought to be there on the list
are not there and ii) errors of commission, i.e. names of
those people that ought not be there are not deleted. On
its own initiative Lok Satta conducted a survey of voter
rolls on a pilot basis in parts of 2 assembly constituencies
in Hyderabad city. The pilot survey, which covered approximately
8500 voters, indicated that there are 48 % errors in the
voter rolls! Based on the results of the pilot survey, FDR/Lok
Satta undertook a much larger sample survey across the state.
The scientifically conducted survey showed that in urban
areas there are 45% errors (26 % wrongly included and 19
% excluded) and in rural areas there are 15 % errors (10
% wrongly included and 5 % excluded) (The Jan-Feb 2001 issue
of Lok Satta Times which covered the issue in detail is
enclosed). The sample survey covered approximately 40,000
voters. Given the demographic profile of India, where approximately
45 % of the population is below 18 years of age, on average
55 % of the population should be registered as voters. But
overall percentage of electors is 63.35%! In states like
Tamil Nadu, AP and Karnataka, the percentage of electors
is above 70 %.
on the results of the survey, FDR/Lok Satta made a passionate
plea to the Election Commission to undertake: a) comprehensive
revision of electoral rolls and b) make the voter registration
process much more accessible by making post office as the
nodal agency. Subsequently we interacted with the EC and
the postal department to make this a reality and fortunately,
both of them agreed in principle and just in the last month,
the EC has formally met with the postal department and initiated
the process to make the post office the nodal agency for
to our earlier survey conducted in 1999, which has conclusively
established the serious flaws in the electoral rolls, we
propose to take up pre poll sample-survey of voter rolls
encompassing a sample size of approximately 100,000 voters
across the state covering both rural and urban areas.
the nature of elections, and the defects in our voter rolls,
bogus voting is rampant across the country. Every one talked
about it, but none had any authentic data on the scale of
the problem. Immediately after the general elections in
1999, with the help of a few "marked electoral rolls",
FDR/Lok Satta undertook a post-poll survey of voters to
ascertain whether those who are marked as voted have actually
voted or not. The survey was conducted in 5 polling stations
covering 4000 voters and it showed that approximately 21.7
% of the votes cast are bogus!
with the introduction of voter ID cards, things haven't
improved much. The experience of our friends in Calcutta,
who organized West Bengal Election Watch during the Municipal
Corporation elections in 2001, cast some light on this problem.
They have set up a help line and approximately 40 % of the
calls they received are those complaining that their votes
were already cast. This only shows that even with ID cards,
it is difficult to stop bogus voting as long as there is
collusive corruption in the voting process.
to our 1999 survey, we propose to undertake a post-poll
sample survey on a much larger scale to ascertain the extent
of bogus voting. Thanks to our large volunteer base, we
will be able to do it within a fraction of the normal cost
associated with such a survey.
Indicators to evaluate the impact of AP Election Watch 2004:
1999 Election Watch, we have made public a list of 45
candidates with criminal record. That list was compiled
using a narrower criteria for evaluation. For EW ' 04,
we are adopting much broader criteria as outlined earlier,
which should result in much more stringent evaluation.
political parties should not nominate any new candidates
with criminal/corrupt record and we will also make a major
push for the parties not to field even the established
candidates with a criminal/corrupt record.
the common platforms and candidate debates, we aim to
achieve the following in the near-term:
of the electoral outcome, we hope to see significant
devolution of powers and empowerment of local governments.
citizen's charters in all local governments in addition
to other major public services with a provision for
appropriate rules for implementation of Right to Information
law, with a provision for compensation for non-disclosure.
of management of agricultural market committees.
courts for speedy justice must be established.
the national-level, post office should be made the nodal
agency for voter registration in the next 1-2 years.
campaign must result in TV networks being utilized for
effective debates between the candidates, very much in
line with the American Presidential debates. It must result
in equitable allocation of time to recognized political
parties by public and private media as envisaged in the
newly enacted law on political funding.
The disclosure of candidate details must lead to serious
research in the medium and long-term. Civil society organizations
must be able to compare the financial information disclosed
by the candidates with the reality on the ground. If any
discrepancies are noticed in the disclosures of any major
party candidates, that must become a major point of advocacy
to mobilize public opinion and pressurize parties to avoid
nominating candidates with dubious financial record.
Election Watch campaign, FDR/Lok Satta contribution will
primarily be in the form of volunteer time and effort. Across
the state, more than 25,000 volunteers will be participating
in the campaign. In addition, we will endeavour to get free
airtime on various electronic media outlets to air the broadcast
capsules that will be prepared for the campaign. The monetary
value of such airtime will easily run into millions of rupees.
Two key activities, namely assisting the voter registration
process and monitoring of the polling process on the polling
day, which are both heavily volunteer dependent, will be
primarily undertaken at our cost. Screening of potential
candidates and campaign against criminalization will be
undertaken largely with Lok Satta resources and efforts,
except those items for which financial support is sought.
The first meeting of the screening committee, headed by
former Supreme Court judge and Law Commission Chairman,
Justice BP Jeevan Reddy, has been already conducted to finalize
the criteria for assessing the criminal antecedents of potential
to Political Parties
of Election Watch 99