By Geeta Padmanabhan
The excitement is palpable. Election results in the five states that went to polls are to be announced tomorrow – Friday the thirteenth. These elections, though in just five states out of the 29, were remarkable for many reasons.
In Dr. Qureshi, the country has a Chief Election Commissioner who believes in the rule of law – specially election rules of law. Like the grinning assassin, he smilingly went about supporting state chief electoral officers after demanding from them the strictest adherence to rules of conducting elections. What followed was nothing short of thorough education – for both the politicos and the public – on how elections should be conducted. The “model code of conduct” unfolded and was implemented, leaving us speechless. No wall graffiti, the State Chief Electoral Officer said, and white-washed those that got painted in the night. No street meetings blocking traffic, he said and sent the police to stop them. No buntings, no billboards, no convoys of politicians choking the roads, he said. The only avenue left to campaign was on a single vehicle and by going door-to-door, the old-fashioned way.
Flying squads could be called when party “functionaries” were caught distributing cash or kind. Distribution did not get stopped altogether, but news of capture of cash and freebies got splashed in the press, bad press! In one raid, Rs.5 crore was detected and deposited with the I-T department. In another, a book with names of the recipients neatly ticked off was taken away.
“People are not being allowed to do legitimate business,” said the ruling party. “Show documents for the cash and take it back,” said the electoral officer. “The district magistrates are harassing people,” said the ruling party. “They are strictly following our orders,” said the EO. “The government cannot carry on its business,” said the CM. “During elections, the government should remain suspended,” retorted the EO. “There is no colour, no conviviality this election,” said a union minister. “Elections are serious business,” said the EO. A union minister and a local bigwig assaulted a videographer and the revenue officer accompanying him (appointed to shoot pictures of cash transfers) and the revenue official promptly filed a case. The RO’s driver was murdered and the poor RO withdrew his FIR giving a different version of the scuffle. The case should be dismissed, said the union minister. “No,” said the court. “We are dealing with the first case. You can appeal again for the second case separately.” Ha.
The results will be announced tomorrow. History could be made if
 Mamata Banerjee wins West Bengal breaking the 33-year reign of a democratically elected communist government. This could leave the communist party with minimum presence in Indian governance.
 Jayalalitha comes back to power in Tamil Nadu. A lot of the underhand dealings of the last five years will come to light. The factions within the first family will be exposed. The equation between the Congress and the DMK will change. It will also put an end to freebie politics. Hopefully, sand/granite mining and land-grabbing will ebb. About the progress of the 2G spectrum case, can it be stopped now?
 If the left front comes back in Kerala. This state has always gone in for a change – that chain will be broken and the present chief minister’s credibility will be proven beyond doubt.
The winds of change are blowing elsewhere as well.
In J&K, for the first time in many decades a Kashmiri Pandit woman has been elected Sarpanch in a Muslim dominated area. Is this a beginning of integration?
In Andhra Pradesh, tribal women chased the MLA away (they threw mud on him) for not supporting them in their efforts to stop clay quarrying by private operators.
At the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, students refused to take the degree certificates (they stood and protested) when Union Minister for Environment came to deliver the convocation address. They didn’t want him to clear the Jaitapur nuclear project.
In Chennai, a small group of activists stopped sand quarrying at the Adyar estuary by quoting the rules and High Court judgments to the officials. The river was dug up in the night by a private operator with a bulldozer, but the officials have promised to restore the river.
The action will soon shift to the banning of Endosulfan nationwide. The Kerala chief minister has been actively campaigning for the ban. The infamous union minister for environment has made a statement that Endosulfan is not all that dangerous (he actually said it, guess he hasn’t seen the photographs of what it did at Kasargod in Kerala!) but the protests loom ahead.
Compare all this with Newt Gingrich’s announcement of his candidacy for next Presidential race and his ha-ha reason why he strayed from marriage. Dishwater!