Why Election Commission does not want Shyam Rangeela to contest against Modi?

If Prime Minister Modi was truly confident in his popularity and performance, he should have no apprehensions about faceeven an unconventional challenger like Rangeela. However, his apparent reluctance to permit a free and fair electoral battle indicates a sense of entitlement and fear of accountability


The Philox

5/15/20244 min read

This article discusses the intriguing situation surrounding Shyam Rangeela and his attempt to contest elections from Varanasi, the same constituency where Prime Minister Narendra Modi is running for the Lok Sabha elections in 2024.

The Controversy

Shyam Rangeela, a well-known comedian celebrated for his spot-on mimicry of PM Modi, made headlines when he declared his intention to challenge the country’s most powerful man in the electoral arena. His decision to run as an independent candidate from Varanasi raised eyebrows and sparked curiosity. However, his journey was not without hurdles.

Initial Trouble

Rangeela arrived in Varanasi with the determination to file his nomination. Yet, until the afternoon of May 14, the last date for filing nominations, he encountered difficulties. According to him, the Election Commission (EC) initially refused to accept his papers. Despite having all the necessary proposers and documents, he faced roadblocks. The tension escalated as he stood outside the Varanasi district magistrate’s office, pleading for acceptance. In a video, he questioned why he was being denied the opportunity to file his nomination.

Echoes of the Past

This situation isn’t entirely unprecedented. In 2019, the returning officer in Varanasi had rejected the nomination of Tej Bahadur Yadav, a sacked Border Security Force (BSF) jawan who was the Samajwadi Party’s initial official candidate against Modi. Yadav had gained prominence for highlighting the poor quality of food served to BSF personnel. Rangeela’s struggle to file his nomination echoed Yadav’s experience, emphasizing the challenges faced by independent candidates in high-profile constituencies.

Persistence Pays Off

Despite the obstacles, Shyam Rangeela persisted. He later filed his nomination under his official name, Shyam Sunder. His determination and the support of his followers played a crucial role. In a post on social media, he expressed gratitude and faith in the democratic process. Rangeela’s decision to contest against Modi symbolizes the spirit of democracy, where even a comedian can step up to participate actively in shaping the nation’s future.

Security Measures and Hope

When Rangeela attempted to enter the Varanasi Election Commission office, he was informed that entry had been closed due to security reasons. The police advised him to return after 12 pm. Despite the frustration, he waited, hoping for a chance to file his nomination. His persistence paid off, and he eventually succeeded in fulfilling the formalities.

The troubles faced by Shyam Rangeela in simply filing his nomination papers point to a deeply worrying trend - the systematicsubversion of India's democratic processes by those in power. That a political satirist who has poked fun at the Prime Minister through mimicry was initiallydenied the basic right to contest elections reeks of authoritarianism and insecurity at the highest levels of governance.

If Prime Minister Modi was truly confident in his popularity and performance, he should have no apprehensions about faceeven an unconventional challenger like Rangeela. However, his apparent reluctance to permit a free and fair electoral battle indicates a sense of entitlement and fear of accountability that is unbecoming of a democratic leader. By allegedly misusing institutions like the Election Commission to preserve his political dominance, Modi is reducing them to mere extensions of his party's hirearchy rather than neutral umpires.

This is part of a larger pattern where the BJP Under Modi has undermined core democratic pillars like a robust opposition, free press, independent judiciary, and decentralization of power. In places like Indore and Surat, the party has run civic administrations virtually unopposed and faced no substantive challengers. If such a perversion of democracy is allowed to proliferate unchecked across India, it could putthe world's largest democracy on anauthoritarian path from which retrieval will be extremely challenging.

True leaders nurture democracy by fostering an open market of ideas and healthy competition. In contrast, Modi seems insecure and desperate to marginalize all critical voices - the greatest threat a democracy can face. Unless checked by institutional counterweights and an awakened citizenry, his personalized presidency could transmogrify into an unstoppable dictatorship that will undo decades of democratic progress.

The Election Commission of India has rejected the nomination papers of Shyam Rangeela, a popular folk singer and social activist, to contest the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat against Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the upcoming 2024 general elections. This decision has sparked a major controversy, with Rangeela and his supporters alleging bias and an uneven playing field.

Rangeela, whose real name is Shyam Singh, rose to prominence in recent years through his satirical folk songs highlighting corruption, social injustice, and lack of development in rural areas. His massive grassroots following, especially among the youth and marginalized communities of eastern Uttar Pradesh, led him to enter the political arena under the banner of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

The stated grounds for rejecting Rangeela's nomination were that he had failed to properly fill out the mandatory disclosure of his assets and liabilities, and had errors in his nomination papers. However, Rangeela and the AAP have cried foul, stating that several other candidates from established parties with similar anomalies in their paperwork were still allowed to contest.

"This is a blatant attempt to prevent a strong voice of the people from challenging the ruling establishment. They are scared of my connect with the masses," said Rangeela. Protests have erupted in Varanasi and other parts of eastern UP by AAP workers and Rangeela's fans demanding a re-examination of his documents.

Political analysts argue that the EC may want to avoid a potentially high-stakes electoral battle between the PM and a feisty grassroots campaigner like Rangeela in what could be a semi-final ahead of the 2024 elections. They contend objectivity has been sacrificed to ensure an easier path for Modi to retain his seat.

The EC has defended its decision as being based solely on facts about Rangeela's nomination and aggressive campaigning ahead of polls. However, the controversy refuses to die down, putting a cloud over the fairness of the process in this politically-critical constituency.

Shyam Rangeela’s journey from mimicry artist to political contender highlights the power of individual agency and the complexities of electoral processes. As the battle for Varanasi unfolds, all eyes will be on this unique contest between the comedian and the incumbent Prime Minister. Regardless of the outcome, Rangeela’s audacity to challenge the status quo serves as a reminder that democracy thrives when diverse voices participate actively in the political arena.