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the questionnaire

 the questionnaire


lokur, shah and n. ram called for debate between rahul and modi.

acceptance by rahul was anticipated. in fact he had ben sounded beforehand and his advisors thought it a good idea because

1.      it would be acknowledgement by other contenders that he is fit to challenge modi for prime minister ship. others such as mamta, akhilesh, udhav thakre etc. will be eliminated.

2.      the only objection could have been from kejriwal who had, in 2014, suggested three way debate but then he was in jail and hence not available at the time of such decision.

3.      modi has never been known to come out for open debate. he is an orator, not a debater. it can also be said for rahul but he can be suitably tutored.

they did not expect modi to accept and that would be, they thought, a plus point for rahul in the contest.

to their utter surprise modi agreed and asked them to fix suitable date.

following this, the three went into huddle. this was not anticipated and now that they had thrown out this idea, they could not turn away.  stormy sessions followed among the three. they had to decide which questions could be asked. they  should be

1.      simple for voters to understand.

2.      should appear, repeat appear, to be neutral and not biased.

3.      should show rahul in good light, intelligent, forthcoming and appear to be sincere.

4.      they should make modi uncomfortable.

5.      they should be such that modi cannot launch a long twisting argument which rahul may not understand and counter. only short answers should be allowed including sometimes - just yes or no.

6.      should advisors be allowed to be present and brief the leaders about the impact of answers that they may give.

all these were tough points and the meeting, rather a series of meetings, followed. in fact people started to wonder if these meetings would end before the seventh phase of voting.

meanwhile, kejriwal was granted time for political work by the supreme court and the original danger of his butting in was also to be considered and question framed accordingly.

in the fifth meeting just ahead of sixth phase of voting, the following questions were agreed upon

1.      can elections be called free and fair considering allegations re

a.      polling percentages difference

b.      evm misbehaving (not withstanding clean chit by some judges of supreme court)

c.      electoral bonds conferring an advantage to bjp ( notwithstanding declaration of scheme as unconstitutional but, unfortunately, with no directions to political parties to refund all such amounts received before the next phase of voting)  

2.      what is the difference between promises, jumlas, guarantees and how they are related to manifestoes of the parties. ( the answers should be in three sentences only)

3.      what will be advantages of caste census? ( this is expected to surely corner modi as he cannot describe the advantages without agreeing to such census which would be against the manifesto of his party.) (note - not more than four sentences allowed in reply).

4.      should future elections be held under an interim government to provide for level ground (without the government listing its schemes during the period of their rule). probably the supreme court can be declared as cabinet under this provision for the duration of elections. (this would also apply to the remaining phases of voting in the current elections. no reference will be made to any poverty alleviation schemes, improvement of infrastructure etc.).  

5.      should any amendment to constitution be allowed only after the supreme court has approved of such changes. (this will not prevent supreme court from changing its views subsequently following litigation over such changes)

the rules of the contest will be as follows –

1-     any of the three questioners can intervene at any point to cut down the answers with their own comments. there will be no limit on the time taken for their comments. more than one may comment on the same issue.

2-     the questioners can stop the contest at any point of their choosing.

3-     there will be no cross talk between the contestants. they cannot ask the other party to explain their views.

4-     no questions shall be raised about the financial aspects of any schemes which may be announced and from where the money will come for the promise, jumla or guarantee. no statistics shall be asked for, say, number of beneficiaries.

5-     no questions shall be allowed about foreign policy, relations with other countries etc.

6-     the opinion of various international organizations about india's performance may be raised but no aspersions on such indices shall be permitted.

the three persons committee hoped that this will ensure a level contest for power and ensure a change in the structure of government after elections.



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