By Anindya BanerjeeNew Delhi, Oct 17 (IANS) Electoral symbols on EVM machines may be a thing of the past if the Election Commission accepts BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay recommendations.Upadhyay has recently submitted a 21-page petition to CEC Sunil Arora and his deputies Ashok Lavasa and Sushil Chandra urging them to use their plenary powers under Article 324 to replace party symbols on voting machines and ballot papers with candidate details, including their names, photograph, age and educational qualifications, saying it was essential for “free and fair elections”. Making a case for his demand, Upadhyay’s petition says most candidates these days think of ‘self first, party next, people last’. “One of the main reasons for this attitude of candidates is the contesting of elections on political party symbols and not on their individual competence and dedication to their voters,” argues the BJP leader.Ironically, this premise mocks at the BJP’s guiding principle of “nation first, party next, self last”, that its top leadership, including party president Amit Shah, takes pride in.Pressing for junking of electoral symbols on EVMs and ballot papers, Upadhyay says these encourage corruption, criminalisation, casteism, communalism and nepotism. He claims that replacing these with candidate details will end “dictatorial practices by political party bosses in ticket distribution”. The contention is a sweeping indictment of political party chiefs, including those of the BJP.The BJP leader also argues that if accepted, his suggestions can stop “parachuting of candidates”. Though all parties are guilty on that count, the BJP paradropped two of its star Lok Sabha MPs — Hema Malini and Sunny Deol — into their constituencies Mathura in Uttar Pradesh and Gurdaspur in Punjab — even though the two reside faraway in Mumbai. Upadhyay’s plea that presses for cleaning up the electoral system cites the poll bodies’ Proposed Electoral Reforms of 2004 and Vohra Committee Report among other reports for this. The BJP leader also backs his arguments with legal elements. He says that the use of party symbols on ballot and EVM, “breaches the right guaranteed under Articles 325-326 read with Article 14 of the Constitution.” While it would be interesting to see how the BJP reacts to Upadhyay’s volley of accusations, no less intriguing would be whether the saffron party would be even receptive to the idea of replacing electoral symbols with candidate details.Because if the EC finds merit in Upadhyay’s plea and decides to invoke its powers, ‘lotus’ on EVMs too may be history. –IANSabn/rtp
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