Press Release

A delegation of the Left parties and Janata Dal (Secular) met the Election Commission and handed over the following memorandum.

The delegation urged the Election Commission to make its own independent assessment and accordingly decide on the timing of elections in the state of Gujarat to ensure a free and fair poll.

The delegation consisted of Harkishan Singh Surjeet [General Secretary, CPI(M)], A.B. Bardhan [General Secretary, CPI], H.D. Deve Gowda [President, Janata Dal (Secular)], Sitaram Yechury and D. Raja.

Text of the Memorandum

1. The undersigned parties are of the considered opinion that the Gujarat Cabinet’s decision to recommend the dissolution of the Assembly is a move to pressurise the Election Commission into holding early elections in the state. The present term of the Assembly expires only in March 2003.

2. The state of Gujarat has been subjected to the worst State-sponsored communal carnage that independent India has seen. As a result, thousands of people have lost their near and dear relatives, with their homes destroyed and with no possibility of any vocation or occupation whatsoever. The process of rehabilitation of these victims is very tardy and suffers from the very same communal prejudice that fuelled the carnage in the first place.

3. The Constitution of India enjoins upon the Election Commission to hold free and fair elections which shall ensure that the will of the people is properly reflected. How can this be possible when the Muslim community has been subjected to the worst forms of violence and terror? Even according to official figures thousands continue to live, even now, in relief camps. Many of them are unable to return to their localities with their homes completely destroyed. When voters cannot return to their localities, how can they cast their votes? When the fundamental right to life and liberty cannot be ensured, how can the right of adult franchise be fairly exercised?

4. In our opinion, Article 174 of the Constitution no way makes it mandatory for the elections to be held so that the newly elected Assembly can meet within six months of the former Assembly session. The Constitutional provision stipulates that the same Assembly is required to meet not later than six months of its earlier session. It defies common sense to interpret this Article in any other way. For instance, a state government may well decide to recommend the dissolution of the House five months and two weeks after its last session. Is it then incumbent on the Election Commission to conduct the election within the span of the remaining two weeks? Such an interpretation being given to Article 174 borders on the absurd.


We, the undersigned, therefore urge the Election Commission to make its own independent assessment of the situation in Gujarat and conduct the elections in such a manner that the responsibility bestowed on it by Article 324 of the Constitution is carried out both in letter and spirit.


Harkishan Singh Surjeet, General Secretary, CPI(M)

H.D. Deve Gowda , President JD(S)

A.B. Bardhan , General Secretary, CPI