Prof. Sabyasachi Das’ Research Reveals Targeted Electoral Discrimination Against Muslims 


The Ashoka University professor, forced to resign over his research paper, talks about manipulation and fraud committed by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the 2019 general elections

Waquar Hasan | Clarion India

NEW DELHI — Professor Sabyasachi Das of Ashoka University in Haryana’s Sonepat city, who was forced to resign recently over his research paper titled ‘Democratic Backsliding in the World’s Largest Democracy,’ has revealed that there was “strategic and targeted electoral discrimination against Muslims”.

The discrimination, the paper pointed out, was in the form of deletion of names from voter lists and suppression of their votes during the election, in part facilitated by weak monitoring by election observers.”

The resignation of Prof. Das has raked up a major controversy. With Economics Prof. Pulapre Balakrishnan also resigning, the departments of Political Science, Sociology and Anthropology have issued statements expressing solidarity with Prof. Das. And several colleagues of Prof. Das have demanded his immediate reinstatement.

Prof. Balakrishnan, whose published work spans the inflationary process in the Indian economy to the country’s economic growth, put in his papers alleging that an “environment of fear” pervades the university.

Prof. Das’ research paper is about the manipulation and fraud committed by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the 2019 general elections. 

The university has distanced itself away from the paper which documented irregularity in the 2019 general election data by showing that the incumbent party’s winning margin distribution exhibits excess mass at zero, while no such pattern exists either in previous general elections or in state elections held simultaneously and subsequently.

“This implies that the incumbent party in 2019 won a disproportionate share of closely contested elections. Moreover, the pattern is concentrated in the states ruled by the incumbent party at that time,” noted the paper.

While calling it “electoral fraud or manipulation”, Prof. Das in his paper rejected the notion that winning a disproportionate share of closely contested elections by the BJP could be possible owing to its significant advantage in poll campaigning over other parties.

“To isolate the two mechanisms, I conduct a series of analyses to check for the presence of precise control and manipulation. I do not find that the incumbent party did greater door-to-door campaigning than other parties in constituencies barely won by it,” noted the paper.

“On the other hand, I find evidence consistent with electoral manipulation at the stage of voter registration as well as at the time of voting and counting (turnout manipulation),” it added.

In the paper, Prof. Das also made it clear that his study does not suggest that the manipulation was widespread.

“The tests are, however, not proofs of fraud, nor does it suggest that manipulation was widespread. Proving electoral manipulation in a robust democracy is a significantly harder task that would require detailed investigation of electoral data in each constituency separately,” stated the paper.

These frauds, as pointed out by the paper, have been done in 6-18 constituencies. “Even if manipulation of election data drives all of the observed irregularities in closely contested constituencies, the aggregate election outcomes in terms of government formation would likely have remained unchanged”.

However, Prof. Das argued that electoral fraud even in a single constituency would imply that such manipulations by incumbent parties are possible. In view of the depletion of trust in electoral processes across the globe and the exceptional integrity of India’s electoral institution in its past, the paper presents a worrying development with potentially far-reaching consequences for the world’s largest democracy.


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