Opinion: Know Your Alphabet: A Random A-Z List For 2024 Lok Sabha Polls, By Derek O'Brien

'A' is for appointments, namely, the new rules for selecting Election Commissioners; 'B' is for Brij Bhushan Singh; and 'C', for Constitution.

May 17, 2024 - 11:45
Opinion: Know Your Alphabet: A Random A-Z List For 2024 Lok Sabha Polls, By Derek O'Brien
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We have crossed the halfway mark for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. Here is a random A-Z list. You too can think up and share your own A-Z lists.

A. Appointment: In December 2023, a new Act of Parliament revised the composition of the selection committee to appoint Election Commissioners. The Chief Justice of India is no longer a member of the committee. The Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition (Lok Sabha), and a nominated Union Cabinet Minister now make the selection. Effectively, this grants de facto control to the Union government.

B. Brij Bhushan Singh. Enough said.

C. Constitution: Try and make the time to read and re-read the 85-word Preamble to the Constitution of this great nation.

D. Demonetisation: One of a select group of words not even mentioned once by the Prime Minister on the campaign trail. 15 lakh jobs were lost in just three months post-demonetisation.

E. Electoral Bonds: The Supreme Court has spoken.

F. Female voters: 47 crore female voters are exercising their right to vote in India Elections 2024. Intriguingly, for India's first elections in 1951-52, 28 lakh women had their names struck from voter rolls. The reason? They refused to disclose their actual names, instead identifying as A's wife or B's mother.

G. The Opposition's favourite four-letter word to describe a pliant media.

H. Himachal Pradesh: A tehsil in Himachal Pradesh, Chini (now Kinnaur), was the place where the first vote was cast in India's first elections in October 1951.

I. Indelible Ink: Mysore Paints & Varnish Ltd., a company in Karnataka, is the only licenced manufacturer of the indelible ink used to mark voters.

J. You can guess the five-letter word in Hindi for 'an unfulfilled and fake promise'.

K. Kejriwal's Arrest: Arvind Kejriwal became the first sitting Chief Minister to be arrested (Hemant Soren too, but after he resigned). Soon after he was released on bail, the Delhi Chief Minister set the cat amongst the pigeons by bringing up the 'retire at 75 years' policy of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

L. Lok Sabha: The eighteenth Lok Sabha to be formed after these elections will be the first where the strength of the House will be 543. The Constitutional (One Hundred and Fourth Amendment) Act, 2019 scrapped the reservation for two members from the Anglo-Indian community to be nominated to the Lok Sabha, reducing the maximum strength of the House from 545.

M. Model Code of Conduct (MCC): The MCC originated during the 1960 Kerala State Legislative Assembly elections, when the State Administration for the first time regulated the conduct of political parties for fair elections. After multiple delegations to the Election Commission, Opposition parties now refer to the MCC as the Modi Code of Conduct!

N. North Paravur: In 1982, a by-election to this assembly constituency in Kerala witnessed the first use of electronic voting machines (EVMs).

O. Opting for NOTA: The concept of 'None Of The Above' (NOTA) was introduced in 2014. NOTA polled 1.1% or 60 lakh votes that year.

P. PM Sayeed: The Congress leader PM Sayeed was elected to the Lok Sabha for ten consecutive terms, 1967 - 2004. He represented the Lakshadweep constituency since its formation in 1967.

Q. Queues: No queues ever in the voting booth in Banej, deep inside the Gir forest. This voting booth in India Elections 2024, was set up for only one person. Reason? The law states no voter should be more than 2 kilometres away from a polling booth. Fascinating piece of trivia.

R. Reduction of voting age: The minimum voting age was reduced from 21 to 18 years in 1989 via the 61st Constitutional Amendment. The voting age in Brazil is 16 years.

S. Shyam Saran Negi: Independent India's first voter, he also held the distinction of being India's oldest voter till 2022. He passed away in November 2022 three days after casting his vote for the 34th time. He was 106.

T. Telangana: Malkajgiri in Telangana is the largest constituency in India, with 37.5 lakh voters.

U. Uniform Civil Code (UCC): One of the key BJP poll planks. BJP founder, S.P. Mookerjee, criticised the efforts of the Nehru government to introduce monogamy and divorce into Hindu Law. He famously claimed: "This would end up killing the very fountain source of the Hindu religion".

V. Voter turnout: The Election Commission used to publish the final voter turnout within 24 hours of voting. This time, the final percentage (and not absolute numbers) was released many days after the first phase.

W. Women's representation: Parliament has just 14% women members. The global average is 27%. The Women's Reservation Bill, passed in 2023, can only be implemented after delimitation and the Census. So only lip service before 2034.

X. (Formerly Twitter): For all the cynicism and allegations about manipulated algorithms, X remains the go-to platform for political parties and politicians to get their points of view across swiftly.

Y. Youth unemployment: Major issue that the ruling dispensation wants to keep away from the headlines. India's youth account for 80% of the unemployed workforce. The share of youngsters with secondary or higher education in the total unemployed has shot up from 35% in 2000 to 66%.

Z. Gen Z: India's Gen Z, 1.8 crore first-time voters, are below 19 years of age.

(Additional research: Chahat Mangtani, Amit Ghosh, Ayashman Dey.)

Disclaimer: These are the personal opinions of the author

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