Thought Box



by HUMRA QURAISHI April 20 2024, 12:00 am Estimated Reading Time: 4 mins, 16 secs

Humra Quraishi, raises concerns about the candidates with criminal records and throws light on demands being made to return to the ballot paper instead of the very suspect EVMs being used by the Election Commission.

Photography: Vinta Nanda

I meticulously pore over news articles, especially those spotlighting the latest revelations from the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and the National Election Watch. Their recent analysis of self-sworn affidavits from contestants in the second phase of the Lok Sabha election unveils a disturbing reality: Out of the 1,192 candidates under scrutiny, a staggering 250 are entangled in criminal cases.

The details are profoundly unsettling: among them are three individuals facing charges of murder, while twenty-four others are accused of attempted murder. Shockingly, twenty-five candidates are implicated in crimes against women, with one facing grave allegations of rape under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Additionally, twenty-one candidates have connections to hate speech cases.

Moreover, the analysis reveals a grim statistic: 52% of the 87 constituencies slated for the second phase of the seven-phase election are classified as 'red alert' areas. These are constituencies where three or more candidates have confessed to criminal activities in their affidavits.

In light of these findings, it's evident that the pervasive presence of criminality among political contenders casts a shadow of doubt on the integrity of our democratic institutions. The implications for our society, both in terms of governance and societal well-being, are dire.


The incarcerated are undeniably a part of our society—our fellow citizens. Yet, amidst the fervour of political campaigning, have you ever paused to ponder why there's a glaring absence of discourse surrounding the improvement of prisons and the conditions of those confined within them? It's disheartening that the plight of prisoners rarely enters the political narrative.

Consider recent reports highlighting the alarming state of affairs within our prisons. Instances of inmates contracting severe infectious diseases while incarcerated have surfaced, drawing attention to the dire need for better healthcare provisions.

Additionally, overcrowded cells have become breeding grounds for violence, with prisoners resorting to attacks or desperate attempts to escape the cramped confines. Furthermore, the experiences of released prisoners shed light on the harsh realities of life behind bars. Just last month, the family of Mukhtar Ansari alleged foul play, accusing authorities of his suspicious death due to poisoning while in custody.

Another grim reality is the substantial proportion of prisoners classified as under-trials—technically innocent individuals whose lives are put on hold as they languish in detention. Their wasted years represent a profound loss of human potential and dignity.

Amidst these grim realities, fundamental questions arise: Shouldn't prisoners have the opportunity to advocate for open-jails, where they can experience a degree of freedom of movement in a less restrictive environment? It's imperative to confront these uncomfortable truths, prompting us to reflect, question, and seek solutions to ensure justice and dignity for all members of our society, including those within the confines of prison walls.

Sandeep Pandey, General Secretary of the Socialist Party (India), has taken a bold stance in advocating for the return to traditional ballot papers over Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) systems. Ahead of the upcoming elections, Pandey has declared that he will demand a paper ballot when he casts his vote on May 20th at his designated polling station in Springdale School, Indira Nagar.

In a determined effort to highlight his distrust in the current electronic voting methods, Pandey has formally communicated his position to the Election Commissioners via email and submitted a letter to the District Magistrate, Lucknow, who serves as his returning officer. He emphasizes that his decision is not a boycott of the election; rather, it's a principled stand to uphold the integrity of the electoral process.

Pandey acknowledges the concerns raised by his friends regarding potential impact on the votes for the INDIA Alliance candidate. However, he believes that the number of participants in his Satyagraha will likely be smaller than the margin between the winning candidate and runners-up, thus minimizing any direct influence on the election outcome. Nonetheless, he sees this as an opportunity to draw attention to the broader issue and hopes that a significant citizen-led movement could compel the Election Commission of India to reconsider its stance on voting methods.

Pandey also references the work of engineer Rahul Mehta, who has developed a machine demonstrating potential vulnerabilities in the EVM-VVPAT system. While Mehta's findings are not conclusive proof of widespread manipulation, they underscore the need for robust safeguards in the electoral process. Pandey suggests that alternative methods, such as 100% counting of VVPATs or collecting VVPAT slips for manual counting, could enhance transparency and mitigate risks associated with electronic voting.

Ultimately, Pandey's advocacy for a return to ballot papers is grounded in a commitment to ensuring free and fair elections, echoing Mahatma Gandhi's principle that the integrity of the process is paramount, even if it means sacrificing speed or efficiency. His call for a re-evaluation of voting technology resonates with broader concerns about the sanctity of democratic processes and the need for vigilant oversight to safeguard against potential manipulation or malpractice.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The writers are solely responsible for any claims arising out of the contents of this article.