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The following is the Interim report of activities presented and discussed at the Election Watch A.P. on 7th, April,
2009.
An Interim Review

Though the Ennikala Nigha Vedika is constituted only a couple of


months ago, it has the merit of having eminent advisors, such as, Justice A.
Lakshmana Rao and Sri.K.R.Venugopal, who have, already, the reputation of
having undertaken electoral reforms and electoral watch activities as early as
2000. This body includes many former administrators who have conducted
these election right from independence, like Sri. B.P.R.Vittal and others like,
Sri.K.J.Rao and Sri. kaki Madhava Rao.
Starting with about 25 organisations, now, the movement, as it stands,
today, became a platform of nearly 200 civic society organizations covering all
the districts in the state. RTI activists, environmentalists, literacy workers,
womens’ groups, low income groups, resident welfare associations, social
reformers and educator, teachers and other associations of civic concerns are
working together. It is currently being coordinated by 8 state convenors who are
themselves heads of a number of state level organizations.
The three broad objectives are (a) voter awareness: to make the voter
aware of the importance of the vote and also to choose the right candidate
without accepting any inducements; (b) projecting a public eye or election
watch, firstly to create a deterrence effect on the main players in the election
campaign and secondly to help the public spirited citizens to report the
malpractices committed and to forward the same to the appropriate machinery
in place; (c) assisting the constitutional machinery to carry out their vital
mission without fear or favour, by cooperating with them as stake holders. This
is necessary in order to restore and enhance the faith of the people in our
institutions and in those persons who are running them. These objectives are
translated into 10 programmes to be implemented by the partner organizations
involved all over the state.
A handbook published by Vedika containing useful information is
already revised thrice and redistributed. Voter awareness means not only
knowledge about their ‘Dos and Don’ts, but also about the norms that the
officials, the parties, the candidates and their followers should follow. Not only
the relevant Acts but also the model code of conduct for the parties and the
candidates are being made widely known to the public by various means. 2 lakh
handouts as brief and ready-reference on the code of conduct are being
forwarded so as to reach not only the mandals but also, in some cases, even to
villages. We are ensuring that the very useful booklet brought out by the CEO in
Telugu and Urdu reaches all districts.
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Building district level networks of a district committee with one or two
convenors and a help centre are almost in place in all districts; while, in some
districts even constituency committees are formed. This has become possible,
because of a series of regional meets that preceded, with the dynamic presence
of Sri.K.J.Rao along with our convenors. The former Advisor to the Election
Commission, in spite of his commitments in New Delhi, has been able to find
time to come to visit the districts, one after another, mobilising the activists,
communicating with the press and meeting with the district level officers like
the D.E.O. and S.P.s for better cooperation between our activists and the
officials.
Help Centres: While the State Centre has started addressing the
complaints received, to the appropriate authorities, the 5 centres established in
GHMC area have, just, started functioning after some initial training to the
centre operators. They inform the voters regarding their voting rights and
polling stations as well as the names and tel numbers of the local DEOs,
Observers, Returning Officers, Presiding Officers, Police Officials, etc. They
would also revert the complaints received to the appropriate authorities. The
same kind of help centres are designed to function in about 23 places, so far, in
the districts. Their efficient functioning is yet to be ensured. Activists are
carrying badges to show their commitment towards cleaner elections and a few
district and constituency level activists are issued ID cards to facilitate their
communication with the officials, on sight.
In the interests of transparency, we should indicate that we have not
launched any fund raising campaign for the expenses incurred during these
activities. Many expenses are borne by the convenors themselves or collectively
by the whole body. If the future activities turn out to be expensive, then the
Vedika might have to explore supplementary ways and means.
The whole thing is started off with a whirl wind tour of different parts of
the city and its outskirts by our team led by Sri.K.J.Rao to photograph the
defacement of public places and the unauthorized and abusive publicity
campaign by all parties without exception. A quick response by the C.E.O. has,
finally, ended the defacement of the public places and publicity campaigns that
disturb the normal life of the citizen and peaceful and pollution-free
environment. The parties that trespassed and defaced the public places are
‘chalaaned’. The resultant effect is visible every where in Hyderabad and same
is the case in many towns and other cities.
The state level convenors have, initially, created the momentum, by
holding a series of press meets by projecting our Advisors to establish the
credibility of the Vedika. Later, the heads of the parties are visited and,
surprisingly, most of them positively welcomed the presence of the Vedika
during this election process. They offered to establish cells of communication
within their party with the convenors. While all parties condemned
malpractices, they expressed helplessness to stop it. This situation strongly
confirms and endorses the role of civil society to intervene to stop this
unhealthy competition among the parties. The meeting with the members of the
National Election Commission and almost daily contacts and visits to the most
cooperative CEO, Sri.I.V.Subba Rao, IAS as well as the sincere and enthusiastic
cooperation from Police headed by Sri. A.K.Mohanty and Sri.A.K.Khan have
brought a lot of effectiveness to the activities of the Vedika. The heads of the

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Excise department as well the Income Tax department were requested to fall in
line with the efforts of the election commission and create a synergy.
The focus of the Vedika and its achievements, so far, are in their fight
against distribution of liquor and money which has already started flowing.
Previously, liquor distribution was never challenged and, nobody believed, till
the Ennikala Nigha Vedika emerged, that it is possible to control it. More hard
work on the part of the Vedika might produce better results in future.
The belt shops are recognized to be in existence and are ordered to be
closed. Started in Hyderabad, the practice of Women’s groups taking an oath,
not to accept any inducements in other places. Musical notes and other cultural
expressions, like skits and street plays are being used to communicate the
message, under candle light is finding many emulators. Similarly, slush money
distribution to buy the voters is being arrested and the amounts are being
confiscated. The Police officials, encouraged by this success, are aiming at
raiding the godowns in which the currency notes are already stocked for
distribution. A mere coincidence of the fact that the D.G.P. had to be appointed
by the Election authority has brought a new morale and efficiency to the police
establishment and, thereby, visibly, people’s level of confidence in the
functioning of the police also has increased. This situation has, naturally,
contributed to obtain better cooperation between the civil society and the police.
Next phase of our action would focus more on making the voters
knowledgeable, before they go to polls about the illicit accumulation of funds
and criminal background, if any, of the candidates. This will be done by
studying and comparing the affidavits filed by the candidates. Also arranging
common platforms in the constituencies: Active citizen would invite the
candidates to present themselves and their capabilities, contrary to, or, probably,
in addition to, the sole practice of candidates going in groups to target voters
and to shower un-accounted promises. The debate during the elections should be
diverted from relief measures and promises to vital issues of polices regarding
economic and social growth and employment. Further, more complaints against
election malpractices are sure to reach us and our liaison mechanisms need to be
streamlined and strengthened to meet the demand. Finally, more innovative
initiatives are needed to increase the percentage of voting in the urban areas and
among the educated voters.
At the mid stage of this campaign by our movement, we can, already,
discern certain positive trends in terms of our political values. Firstly, it is
proved that, if our administrative bodies are allowed to function autonomously
as per their constitutional or statutory obligations, they can produce better
results in the interests of the nation. Secondly, in a society, where many people
still, do think that the politicians can do anything, while in power or while
trying to capture it, we are able to prove that nobody is above law. The future
law-makers are being taught to learn to respect the rule of law. Can we produce
a lasting effect out of this, beyond the electoral period?

----------------------------------------------07/04/09

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