No Single Voter should be ignored, says Dr. Quraishi

In a democratic governance system, every single voter matters, Dr. S. Y. Quraishi, former Chief Election Commissioner of India commented in a talk held on Monday, March 24, 2014 at the Daily Star Centre in Dhaka. He also said ignoring a single voter is a mistake. He was addressing a Talk titled Understanding India’s General Elections – 2014, organised by BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), BRAC University.

Dr. Quraishi, in his talk, said Indian elections never missed the deadline, and the credibility never challenged. As to EC's independence, he said the opposition parties, mass media and the people were so vibrant in India that it was not so easy to influence the commission that enjoyed absolute command over the entire bureaucracy during poll-time.

Dr. S. Y. Quraishi, the former CEC of India, was visiting Bangladesh as part of a curtain raiser to the 16th Lok Sabha (General) Elections in India scheduled from April 7, to May 12, 2014.

Responding to questions by noted election observers, he said peaceful elections did not mean free and fair elections. About the uncontested January 5 elections in Bangladesh, he remarked, though uncontested elections take place in India too but large scale of uncontested elections is a concern. He said, the Election Commission should ensure an enabling environment for voters but it could not force candidates to make the elections contested. He also added, “boycott of election is totally democratic and none should prevent or force anyone to exercise their franchise or not.”

In the Talk, Dr. Quraishi described the whole system of general election of India and mentioned the roles of different parts of the system at the time of the election. Remembering from his tenure as CEC in India, he shared his vast experience with the audience.
He said, to ensure inclusiveness, ramps are provided at polling stations of India for people with disabilities, Braille paper for the blind and companions to help the infirm persons. Disclosure of personal and wealth information of the candidates is essential to help informed choice of voters, he added, and the exposure of criminal records and corruption in this process was based on information declared by the candidates on affidavit.
Dr. A T M Shamsul Huda, former Chief Election Commissioner of Bangladesh also spoke at the programme as the Special Guest, Barrister Manzoor Hasan, Institutional Adviser of BIGD chaired the event.

Among others, Brigadier General (Retired) M Sakhawat Ali, former Election Commissiner; Mr. Ali Imam Mazumder, former Cabinet Secretary; Dr. Badiul Alam Mazumder, Secretary, Citizens for Good Governance; M Hafizuddin Khan, former adviser to the Caretaker Government; Syeda Rizwana Hasan, Director, Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers’ Association (BELA); Mr. Enam Ahmed Chowdhury, Member of Advisory Council, Chairperson, BNP also spoke at the programme.

Professionals and representatives from various academic and research institutions, government, NGOs, international organisations; civil society members, journalists, organisations involved in election observation, representatives from governance, human rights and other organisations attended the talk.

The forthcoming elections of India, which will be accompanied by elections to the Assemblies of three States (Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Sikkim), will be the biggest democratic exercise in the world involving 814 million voters, spread over 9 phases.

The event received huge coverage in the national media. Click on the links below to have a look.

The Daily Star

Dhaka Tribune

The Daily Ittefaq

The Daily Jugantor

Kaler Kantho