The Trump-India moment is here, make no mistake. Elections are to be held but only if the establishment will win.
There are a few still among the media who seem to care. Among them the ABP’s Seedha Sawal show, anchored by Sandeep Chaudhary.
Its episode of the evening of February 5 made a most startling expose in real camera time of how the returning counting officer for the mayoral election results in Chandigarh, one Anil Masih, who doubles as in-charge of the ruling BJP’s minority cell there, was caught with his hands in the electoral till, as it were.
Thinking that the CCTV cameras had been turned off, one of these inanimate but fair-minded watch dogs filmed this gentleman’s questionable conduct.
In the video released by the channel, Masih can be seen picking and choosing ballot papers, marking eight and then dropping these in a tray. As it turned out, eight invalid votes – all cast for the AAP/Congress candidates – were knocked out, leading the BJP to win.
Inevitably, the matter went to the top court.
Astounded by videographed shenanigans, the Chief Justice called this a “mockery” and “murder” of “democracy”, stating further that the presiding officer ought to be prosecuted.
We may recall how Donald Trump had a long chat with an election officer in Georgia during the US Presidential election of 2020, nudging him gently and otherwise to produce just an additional 11,000 or so votes to ensure his victory in Georgia. Alas, that man with a law-abiding, democratic conscience did not oblige.
We do not know as of now if Anil Masih in Chandigarh was acting on his own loyal volition or whether a call had gone out to him from the top, as it had in Georgia.
Recall the time when a former prime minister from the very same ruling party as now lost a government at the centre in New Delhi by one, repeat one, vote rather than resorting to any subterfuge to prevent such a dethronement.
That was then. Now even a measly mayoral contest with all of 36 votes in the reckoning must be won, no matter what it takes.
Many citizens who still stand by “free and fair elections” as the basic bedrock of democracy must wish to hear from Narendra Modi on the Chandigarh happening, especially in view of what the top court has had to say.
Wide sections also speculate whether the Chandigarh ‘murder of democracy’ may not after all be a preview of ‘slaughter’ on a larger scale.
Do let us remember that a defining General Election for parliament is due in less than three months, and Modi has already, more than once, announced the things slated to happen in his “third term”.
Such apriori self-assurance seems both democratically unlovely and rather ominous, given the shameless transgression in Chandigarh.
After all, some pollsters, among them those that tend to favour the ruling BJP, have proffered the calculation that the exit of Nitish Kumar from the INDIA alliance is set to damage the ruling combine substantially in Bihar rather than add to its fortunes.
For once, the disgust expressed by common Biharis is unreserved and bad news for those who brought about this latest unconscionably comical coup.
Same with the roughshod happenings in Jharkhand. There too, the Congress and the JMM seem well poised to win most of the 14 parliamentary seats.
The resentment of the Adivasis, both Sarna and Christian, must be heard to be believed, as also the welcome they gave the Rahul Gandhi-led Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra.
As raids by teams of the Enforcement Directorate, morning of February 6 on a slew of personnel associated with the ruling Aam Aadmi Party in the Capital surfaced as the morning’s “baddi khabar” – big news – some media channels also made bold to feature a simultaneous press conference by Atishi Singh, minister in the Kejriwal cabinet,.
In her briefing, she accused the Enforcement Directorate of violating Supreme Court guidelines in the conduct of its investigations. The ED has strenuously denied Singh’s charges but the popular perception that what the agency is overseeing the ‘Enforcement’ of is Dictatorship.
Democracy already having been murdered, as the Chief Justice of India said in open court.
Imagine how fraught a mere D can be.
Badri Raina taught at Delhi University.
This piece was first published on The India Cable – a premium newsletter from The Wire & Galileo Ideas – and has been updated and republished here. To subscribe to The India Cable, click here.