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April 30, 2004
rediff.com's expert panel and its battery of reporters across the country answer readers' poll queries:
Who do you think will win -- Sunil Dutt or Sanjay Nirupam?
Answer: The advantage seems to be with Sunil Dutt. The voting turnout was low -- around 45 per cent -- and low turnouts historically have favoured incumbent candidates. Sunil Dutt's clean image and strong bond with minorities will also work in his favour. The Samajwadi Party, which could have split the Congress votes, did not put up a candidate in the constituency.
Nirupam concentrated on Dutt's absenteeism in Parliament and that did become a bit of headache for the Congress candidate.
How much does an election contribute to our Gross Domestic Product? We know that elections add to the expenses, but there must be businesses flourishing on elections. Do we have an overall monetary loss or profit due to an election?
Answer: The 'contribution of an election to the gross domestic product' is unquantifiable. The nation does not lose or gain much, except a government. And making an investment in a good regime is worth its while, if one wants progess, better governance, peace...
Giridhar, West Lafayette, US
I am a graduate student in Purdue University. Can I vote in this election by some postal ballot?
Answer: No. There is no such provision.
Why does Jaipal Reddy comment about the BJP's next prime ministerial candidate after Vajpayee retires, when the Congress does not know for sure who its prime misterial candidate is right now???
Answer: This only Jaipal Reddy can tell you. This is politics, Praveen. The BJP talks about how the Congress does not have a prime ministerial candidate. The Congress targets Vajpayee on his age. It's all part of the game.
Punditji, do you know of any mail id of someone in BJP, to which if i write a mail, it would be read and if useful thought about?
Answer: Please check the BJP Web site. They have a feedback section. http://www.bjp.org/pomi.htm.
Naresh Malhotra, California
Mr Pundit, Dont you think the whole Electoral System as such in India is pathetic? In a place where there are 1000 people only 650 people vote (considering 65% polling) and then there at least two or more parties contesting. Let say for mere example there are 3 candidates contesting. Unless there is a ideal candidate out of these 3, the votes would be split between these 3. Going through all the previous vote share and percentage of votes shared by party. Lets say candidate gets 350 candidate2 gets 200 and candidate 3 gets 100. Now this candidate1 will be elected as the leader because he is the one who got the maximum votes and no doubt about that. But on the hindsight if you observe one point, out of 1000 people only 350 voted for him and the remaining 650 were against him and we still have no choice.
Dont you think that the Election Commission needs to do something in this matter. I hope I made my point. Thanks.
Answer: Well, a case has been made for preferential voting. But it would be unfair to say that the present system elects candidate that people do not want elected. A point to be noted is that those who did not vote cannot be counted among those who were against the elected candidate.
Priya Chakravarti, Darwin, Australia
With India's enormous population, it is understandable why general elections are held over phases. But what is amazing is how in a phased system of election, the media is allowed to conduct exit polls in mid-stream. I can understand conducting exit polls on the last day of polling but in mid-stream, I'm more than sure it influences the final election outcome. The analogy is the same as contempt of court laws, wherein the media are seen as influencing the jury by publishing matters before the case gets heard by them. It shows the mass media in India has a tremendous contempt for the sanctity of elections and their readers, viewers and listeners. I have worked in India's mass media and I've seen this first hand. I remember exit polls showed the same trends last time around after the first couple of phases. All that served was for voters to start voting for the NDA combine in droves, thus affecting the final outcome. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against the NDA, but I do remember looking at the faces of disbelief and amazement of people like Prannoy Roy and all other clever Willies with the final election outcome which showed the NDA come away with an enormous majority.
Answer: There is a huge debate on at the moment in the country on exit and opinion polls. The matter is before the Supreme Court, which has refused to ban these polls.
Sandip Raha, Kolkata
If the declared assets of a candidate is wrong whether it's possible to cancel his membership to the Partliament if he/she wins.
Answer: Yes, very much.
S Krishnan, Manila, Philiippines
I am a chennai resident. I am at present in Manila on a project. I am a registered voter, but unable to vote this time. How can I prevent somebody from misusing my vote? Can my father inform the polling officer that I am not in town to vote? Is it sufficient or is there any other way?
Answer: I understand your concern. I frankly do not know of any such provision. A provision by which one could freeze a vote.
DURGA KRISHNA, HYDERABAD
I HAVE VOTE, BUT SOMEBUDY USED MY VOTE BEFORE I WENT, HERE CAN I USE MY VOTE? (MEANS CHALLING VOTE)
Answer: There are thousands who go through this in every election. The Election Commission will have to find a way to prevent this. One of our readers, who had a similar experience, sent us this piece: http://www.rediff.com/election/2004/apr/21diary.htm
Raaj Kumar, Delhi
I m unable to vote this time since from last 2 year I m here in Delhi because i dont know if there is any provision for people like me to cast their vote. can u suggest somthing?
Answer: You must register as a voter and ensure your name appears on the electoral roll when authorities come for updating the list. When the process of updating the list is initiated, announcements are made in the media to alert people. For more information, please check this link -- http://www.eci.gov.in/ElectoralRolls/electoralRolls_fs.htm
As we are using EVM'S this election are there any chances of null or void vote? If no is it success in a sense of reducing such votes or is a voter denied a chance of rejecting all candidates on the fray?
Answer: If a voter wants to reject all candidates, all he has to do is stay home. Of course, there is the risk of his vote being used by a bogus voter. As I have said earlier, the Election Commission will have to think of a solution.
I want to know the propects of BJP in the coming Lok Sabha elections. Whether they are going to form the new govt at centre in the leadership of AB Vajpayee. Also I want to know whether Dharmendra will win the elections or not. Please reply:
Answer: Various opinion polls gave BJP-led National Democratic Alliance between 270 and 290 seats. However, exit polls indicate that it may not be a cakewalk. The NDA is facing trouble in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Bihar.
Dharmendra is doing very well. But it's far too early to call Bikaner.
U Venkatesh, Bangkok
Pundit ji, We NRI's verymuch interested in casting our ballot. Cannot the embassies in different countries make the necessary arrangements? After all quite a substantial amount of the tax payer's money is being spent on staffing and maintaining these embassies and also we are being charged substantially for renewal of passports etc?
Answer: Good point, Venkatesh. Why don't you write to the Election Commission with this suggestion -- http://www.eci.gov.in.
PANKAJ K GUPTA, PATIALA
Dear Mr. Pundit, Two phases of elections are already over and as I know only 55 to 60% voters have come forward to cast their votes. Can you suggest how the voting percentage be increased to a level of 90 to 95 per cent. Don't you think that it is mostly the educated persons who are not casting their votes. I understand that out of votes polled in earlier two phases almost half of the voters are from lower middle class or BPL. Can I suggest that if a person does not vote without a valid reason for Lok Sabha/Vidhan Sabha elections he/she should be penalised in a logical manner like he/she should be made ineligible for further promotions in job, should not be given any concessions, should be taxed differently etc. etc. till the next elections. Don't you think such measures will enhance the voting percentage.
Answer: Penalising somebody for not voting, in my view, will be against the ethos of democracy. People do not vote because they have lost faith in our politicians. And by not voting they leave the street open for undesirable candidates. It's a vicious cycle.
Swapan De, Kolkata
Is there any Web site where I can find the manifesto vs actual implementation of different political parties?
Answer: I do not know of any such website.
D N Rao, Mumbai
The ECI is not user friendly public gets to know the contestants only from the EVM and even affidavits are filed by candidates public is totally in dark about this except thru media. I feel ECI should devise ways to provide complete information of the contestants well in advance and their past political life i mean changing parties at will so on
Answer: Please visit the website of the Election Commission of India - http://www.eci.gov.in - and click on link leading to Election Websites of 35 states/UT's. Almost all states have put up the names of candidates and their affidavits on their respective Web sites.
Thomas Nazareth, Mumbai
Is there any way to retire politicians who cross 65 years of age. Why can't they take rest and allow the younger generation to run the country's affairs.
Answer: The only way is a legislation.
KIRTI RANJAN JHA, Kharagpur
What kind of democracy do we have? The people who were chased by police like a dog are now getting police protection. Why should we not have positive dictatorship?
Answer: Positive dictatorship? Now, what is that, Mr Jha?
I have a voters' ID card that was issued to me in my native Coimbatore. Now I have moved and settled in Bangalore, How do I add my name in the voters list in Bangalore?
Answer: This link may help answer your question - http://ceokarnataka.kar.nic.in/FAQ/indexw.html
What is the latest report of the exit poll?
Answer: The latest exit polls have brough some bad news for the NDA. The polls say the ruling coalition may not secure a majority. Check this link: http://www.rediff.com/election/2004/apr/27exit.htm
We have seen over 2-3 lakh voters were denied their right to vote. If the winning party leads the opposition by a slender margin, the question that arises is that these voters would have played a major role in shifting the power to the other party. How would the nation react to this?
Answer: A couple of lakhs of voters spread across the country is a tiny number. Not enough to shift the power this way or that. However, no one must ever be denied his right to vote. It makes a mockery of our claim of being the world's largest democracy.
Where we go to enter our name in voters list?
Answer: Please visit the Web site of the Election Commission of India - http://www.eci.gov.in - and click on link leading to Web sites of 35 States/UT's. Once you find your state, please check out the section on FAQ
What is panditji's opinion about the exit poll results do you agree or not?
Answer: I agree more or less. That the Congress-TRS coalition will work in Andhra Pradesh was known. That the Congress-NCP is a formidable combination in Maharashtra was also known. That the NDA made a mistake in switching loyalties to Jayalalithaa was also quite clear.
Who will be the CM in Andhra Pradesh?
Answer: As of now, going by the results of the exit polls, it appears that the ruling TDP will not get another term. It may be replaced by the Congress-TRS alliance. The Congress' chief ministerial aspirant is Y S Rajshekhar Reddy.
What is a relationship between the stock market share rates and the elections or the results of the elections?
Answer: A clear majority to a party or a coalition of parties ensures stability in the stock market. At the same time, if a reforms unfriendly party wins a majority, stock prices may come down crashing.
Answers to previous questions
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