Friday, April 3, 2009

ITALIAN CITIZEN AND INDIAN VOTER

Sonia Gandhi made a false start in Indian business and industry in the 1970s. Her unlawful association with two companies came to light after the A C Gupta commission, appointed by the Morarji Desai government, submitted its findings in 1978. Following the report, the government took over the Maruti limited and seriously began efforts to give India a "wholly indigenous" small car. Gandhi's dalliance with business probably ended after this fiasco but there is evidence to show that her tryst with politics began in 1980 and this too started on a false note. 4
The electoral rolls of the New Delhi parliamentary constituency were revised in 1980 with January of that year as the qualifying date. This revision enable the people to seek additions, deletions and changes in the list and among those who did so were members of the family of Indira Gandhi, who was then the Prime Minister. The family lived in 1, Safdarjung Road and until then had four voters Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Sanjiv Gandhi and Maneka Gandhi in 1980, there was an addition to the list - Sonia Gandhi. She was listed as a voter at serial number 388 in poling station number 145 of that parliamentary constituency. 4
This would have passed off as a routine addition, but for the fact that Sonia Gandhi was not a citizen of India, a fundamental qualification for anyone seeking entry into the voters' list of any country. 4
The fraudulent entry in the list of electors would have gone unnoticed but for 'Surya India,' a popular news magazine in those days, which raked up the issue. 'Surya India' did a cover story on Sonia Gandhi in October 1982 and asked how a citizen of Italy could be a voter in India. An official, of Delhi had told the magazine that this was a blatant violation of rules but had pleaded helplessness. The magazine quoted him as saying: "It is not for us to check whether applicants are bonafide citizens of this country or not. We expect only genuine citizens to enrol themselves. Besides, who can expect an official to question the veracity of statements made by a responsible member of the Prime Minister's family when they go to crosscheck the voters' list. 4
However, soon after the scandal broke out, the chief electoral officer, Delhi was forced to take cognisance of this case and to remove the foreign element from the electoral rolls. This he did in 1982 but by then Sonia Gandhi had illegally remained on the electoral rolls for almost three years. 4
Sonia's entry into the electoral rolls and her continuance on it for such a long time is not a simple case of oversight. The name of Sanjay Gandhi, who had died in a tragic plane crash in June 1980, was deleted from the list of voters in 1, Sardarjung Road when the rolls were updated in 1981 but Sonia Gandhi remained on the rolls at number 388. Her name was deleted only after a controversy erupted the following year. The order of deletion was issued by K L Sethi, who was the election officer, Delhi. 4
However, Sonia Gandhi re-entered the voters' list following a fresh revision in 1983. She was listed at serial number 236 in polling station 140 of the New Delhi parliamentary constituency. It is now ascertained that Sonia applied for Indian citizenship on April 7, 1983 and was granted citizenship on April 7, 1983, which means that she finally decided to take the Indian citizenship 15 years after her marriage to Rajiv Gandhi. 4
Sonia Gandhi must, therefore, explain why she was for more anxious to enter the voters' list in India than to give up her Italian citizenship. 4
Again in 1980, her entry into the voters' list while she was still a citizen of Italy constituted a violation of the country's electoral law. 4
In fact, From 4 in the registration, of electors rules, 1960 clearly states that "only the names of those who are citizens of India should be entered." This is the form that is sent to the occupant of the household meaning the head of the family. In 1980, the head of the household was Indira Gandhi. An individual applicant can fill form 6. Here again the applicant must declare that he or she is a citizen of India. 4
Section 31 of the Representation of the People Act, 1950 says: "Any person who makes a statement or declaration which is false and which he either knows or believes to be false or does not believe to be true shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with fine or with both. 4There is, however, no evidence, that the electoral officer proceeded against anyone for such an obvious and wilful violation of the sanctity of India's electoral rolls.
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