By Rajan Narayan

IN a public interest petition filed before the Supreme Court activist lawyer Prashant Bhushan has alleged that the Election Commission of India is rigging the figures of voter turnout in the ongoing Lok Sabha parliamentary elections 2024. Bhushan poins out that even two weeks after the polling the EC has not been giving the exact number of votes polled in each constituency.
Much more shocking is the fact that two weeks after the polling in the first three phases, the EC has revised the turnout percentage upwards by 6%. This effectively means that the EC has hiked up the number of voters by over one crore. There is a difference of over 1% in the original figures immediately after polling and the revised estimates of the turnout.

IT may be recalled that there was widespread concern over the significant fall in polling percentage in the first three phases of polling in the 2024 parliamentary polls. On average, the polling percentage was lower by 5-10% as compared to the 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha elections. It may be recalled that a lot of anxiety was expressed over the fall in the turnout in the first three phases. This was interpreted as a major setback for the BJP. The polling percentage was particularly low in the BJP stronghold of Uttar Pradesh. In the 2019 election the BJP had won all 80 seats. This time around either there was an anti-Modi wave or the BJP karyakarta could not mobilize voters.
In other BJP strongholds like Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan also the polling percentage was much lower than in 2019. In contrast, the polling percentage in the Southern states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Telangana have been very much higher. These are states dominated by partners of the INDIA alliance like the AIDMK in Tamil Nadu, the Congress in Karnataka and Telangana. In these states, the BJP has never won many parliamentary seats.
Both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah became silent on the claim that the BJP would cross 400 seats in parliament in the 2024 elections. The perception is that the Dalits are angry. The Muslims are silent. In every state, there are complaints that the Modi guarantees have not worked. The Ram Mandir has not impressed the poor. Temples and prayers will not fill an empty stomach.

THE record of the Modi government in creating employment is very poor. For the first time, even recruitment in the IT industry has fallen sharply. There are reports which suggest that the major IT firms INFOSYS, Wipro and TCS have sacked over a lakh software engineers. Admittedly, with Artificial Intelligence the demand for coding and other routine IT jobs has disappeared. IT companies are also trying to get their employees to return to the office. A large number of employees were allowed to work from home during COVID19.
The Congress with its promise of providing 20 lakh government jobs every year seems to be appealing to the youth. The minorities are not with the BJP. Even the educated among the Hindu majority do not approve of the fundamentalist Hindutva policies of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah and the BJP.
It looks as though the EC is the latest independent institution to be compromised by the Modi government. Even up to the 2019 election the EC always provided the exact number of people who have voted in any constituency within 24 hours. There has never been such a long delay in providing the actual results. There has never been a case of the turnout going up 20 days after the polling.
The SC has accepted the petition of Prashant Bhushan and asked the EC to explain the upward revision of the turnout in the first three phases. We provide below the summary of the appeal by lawyer-activist Prashant Bhushan in his petition to the SC.

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