Maneka Gandhi's threat to single out Muslim voters isn't a bluff. India's ballot is no longer secret - By Ishita Trivedi - IAMC
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Maneka Gandhi’s threat to single out Muslim voters isn’t a bluff. India’s ballot is no longer secret – By Ishita Trivedi

Last week, Maneka Gandhi, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s candidate for Uttar Pradesh’s Sultanpur constituency, caused a stir when she told Muslim voters that if they did not vote for her, they could not expect her to help them if she won. The BJP minister emphasised that it would be evident if Muslims failed to vote for her, from voting patterns in neighbourhoods dominated by the minority community. Said Gandhi: “When the election comes and this booth throws up 100 votes or 50 votes, and then you come to me for work we will see.”

On April 15, another video surfaced of Gandhi warning villagers in Pilibhit district that she would grade villages by the number of votes she receives and prioritise development work accordingly. In theory, Indians are guaranteed a secret ballot by the Representation of People Act, 1951. Not so in practice, as Gandhi clearly pointed out, especially now that India uses Electronic Voting Machines.

…Since 2009, when EVMs started being used nationwide, Form 20 data, or polling booth voting data, is made publicly available by the Election Commission of India. The granularity of Form 20 data – which gives the number of votes received by all candidates, down to each EVM used – and its implications for privacy and the free exercise of a voter’s franchise, are troubling.…