Monday, 30th October 2017

E- paper

A first-time candidate’s election takeaway: Garland is a must

Anupam Tripathi wanted to frame his first election ticket, but he got a surprise

By Smita Tripathi in New Delhi
  • Published 3.05.19, 7:41 PM
  • Updated 3.05.19, 7:41 PM
  • 3 mins read
Anupam Tripathi (left) with residents in an East Delhi neighbourhood while campaigning earlier this week. Photo courtesy: Anupam Tripathi's Facebook page

When Anupam Tripathi walked through the security barricade of the district magistrate’s office in east Delhi, he and his family were repeatedly asked: “Who is the candidate among you?”

Anupam, 38, was about to file his nomination from the East Delhi seat as a Bharatiya Kisan Party candidate. This was his debut, and already the policeman at the check post and some officials seemed unsure that the lawyer and green activist could be a potential candidate.

Once inside the DM’s office, Anupam realised what his appearance was missing. Garlands. All the other election aspirants in the room had garlands draped around their necks. "I made a note to myself. ‘Wear garlands when filing nomination next time’," he wryly remarked later to this author. (The author and the election candidate, Anupam Tripathi, are siblings)

Anupam’s task is uphill. He is contesting against Atishi from AAP. The BJP has fielded former cricketer Gautam Gambhir.

He has already suffered the beginner’s first disappointment. Anupam had wanted to frame his first election ticket. "I always thought the party ticket would be something fancy. Maybe something I could frame later, like a certificate,” he said. “But it's just a form with my details," he laughed.

He has also become aware of a faceless industry that is at work to make money from elections. "I knew my nomination had been accepted even before the official confirmation from the Election Commission," he said.

How is that?

Anupam said he got several calls and WhatsApp messages from strangers offering to be his campaign manager. Some others offered to provide the phone numbers of 12 lakh voters in his constituency. The going rate seemed to be Rs 15,000 for 1 lakh phone numbers.

If the election ticket was a disappointment, the affidavit filing process was an eye opener.

In a 26-page form, the candidate has to provide details of financial and other assets but not educational qualifications. "I am a trained lawyer. I found it strange that they don't ask for any annexures," Anupam said.

Details on a candidate’s criminal cases are among the first five things an aspirant has to declare, Anupam noticed. The fifth point in the affidavit form - after the candidate's name, address, constituency and the party name - is “total number of pending criminal cases”. This is followed by “total number of cases in which convicted”. There is more space in subsequent pages for a candidate to give details of the cases. Space is provided for FIR numbers.

Anupam also made an observation about the section where candidates are expected to declare their movable and immovable assets. A lot of space had been provided to furnish details of assets of one's spouse and dependents, but hardly any under the “self” column. Many political leaders have properties that are under the name of the spouse or another family member.

Every candidate has to open a bank account for election related transactions and give the details of this account to the EC. All money received and expenses incurred for the election must be transacted through this account only.

After filing the nomination, the candidate has to wait for it to be accepted. The Election Commission informs the candidate about the nomination acceptance and allots him/her the number on the EVM machine. Anupam’s button is number 6 on the EVM, his symbol is a cot, or khatiya.

One of the things about the EC that has cheered up Anupam is the poll watchdog’s restrictions on the printing of posters and pamphlets. Pamphlets cannot be distributed as an insert in newspapers or randomly put in people's mailboxes. All pamphlets have to be personally delivered. This will reduce littering and also reduce the number of pamphlets printed. “Why waste so much paper?" he asked. “We need to work on protecting the environment and cleaning the air.”

Anupam’s inspiration used to be the Aam Aadmi Party, but he is fighting them this election. “They are no longer aam (ordinary). They have become khaas (special),” he said. "You need to walk the talk. There's no point in just criticising the government. I know I can do so much more as a part of a government," he said, and added that he was confident he would not lose his deposit.

Candidates who fail to get one-sixth of the total votes polled lose the Rs 25,000 that they deposit with the Election Commission.

East Delhi votes on May 12