Depending on who you ask, democracy — or the lack thereof — was seen at work in two extremities of India on Tuesday, December 5.
Up north, Rahul Gandhi is now the winner of the 'race' to become the next Congress president all but officially.
Down south, the Election Commission disqualified J Jayalalithaa's niece Deepa Jayakumar and actor Vishal as candidates for the byelection to the RK Nagar Assembly seat due to discrepancies in their nomination papers. Vishal's nomination was accepted in the evening.
While the first instance was seen as mockery of democracy by many, the second was seen as the democratic process of election at work.
The Congress is a beleaguered party that has been tom-tomming the reluctant prince that is Rahul Gandhi as its head for quite some time now.
The party claims to follow a democratic process of electing its chief, but that process seemed to be non-existent when it came to the Congress choosing a successor for Sonia Gandhi through its Central Election Authority (CEA).
However, CEA chairman Mullappally Ramachandran said in an official statement on Tuesday: "A total of 89 nomination papers, all proposing the name of Rahul Gandhi have been received. These nomination papers have covered all the states."
The MP added: "We have scrutinised each nomination paper and found all the 89 papers valid. There is now only one validly nominated candidate, ie, Rahul Gandhi left in the fray for the election of Congress president."
That means there is no contender against the Gandhi scion when the internal election takes place on December 16 and the winner is announced on December 19. Might as well have announced Rahul Gandhi the winner, methinks.
RK Nagar muddle
Meanwhile, the race for the Tamil Nadu Assembly seat that fell vacant due to the death of Jayalalithaa exactly a year ago to this day, saw some unexpected hiccups.
The first was a jolt for Deepa Jayakumar, the niece of Jayalalithaa who is often called her lookalike. Deepa's nomination papers were rejected by the returning officer during scrutiny, apparently because there were some discrepancies in them.
She was subsequently quoted by ANI as saying: "There is a column where we talk about inheritance of property, and I have mentioned that. It's not mandatory. That's not reason enough to reject this application. All other information I have provided is perfect."
The second casualty of the scrutiny process was Tamil actor Vishal, whose nomination was cancelled because there was a problem with the spelling of the two proposers mentioned in the documents.
Vishal went on to sit on a "dharna" following the rejection, but it looked like the damage had already been done.
However, the poll panel enacted a late-evening twist and accepted Vishal's nomination as an independent candidate. He later told news agency ANI that he was "really thankful to the Election Commission for doing the right thing."
The other major players in the fray for the RK Nagar byelection are:
1. E Madhusudanan: AIADMK presidium chairman and the party's nominee. He represents the AIADMK united under E Palaniswami and O Panneerselvam.
2. TTV Dinakaran: Nephew of Sasikala Natarajan aka VK Sasikala. She had left him in charge of the AIADMK after ousting Panneerselvam from it, but he became an accused in a case where apparently bribe was proposed to an Election Commission official to give the Two Leaves symbol to his faction. He has since been ousted from the AIADMK, and is running on his own.
3. M Maruthuganesh: The DMK candidate. He, along with Madhusudanan and Dinakaran, had been the candidates when the poll panel proposed to conduct the RK Nagar byelection on April 12. However, Dinakaran's Two Leaves bribery case forced the Election Commission to stop the election.