DC Edit | EC’s chest-thumping hides abject failures

Amid mid-election assessments, Election Commission asserts progress while facing pending complaints, raising concerns over fairness and transparency
The assessment of the Election Commission of India, which is mid-way through the conduct of the elections to the 18th Lok Sabha, that polling so far has been non-violent, relatively noise-free, less cluttered and non-intrusive, plus sans inducement and ostentation, is cause for relief and satisfaction not just for the poll body but also all those who believe in democracy.

However, what defies logic is the chest-thumping over its claim that it has been able to dispose of 90 per cent of the complaints that came before it since the model code of conduct (MCC) came into force on March 16. The EC itself has revealed that complaints from the Congress and the BJP alleging violation of MCC are still pending with it.

The EC is the constitutional body authorised and empowered to conduct elections in a free and fair manner. Its job is to ensure that every participant in the election gets a level playing field and also plays by the rules. As per the EC’s own admission, the complaints of MCC violation pending with it fall in the category of hate speech by star campaigners on faith, caste, language and region which also fall foul of the Constitution.

It may be remembered that the level of content in the campaign speeches plummeted after the second phase with the Prime Minister taking the lead in making speeches that seek to pit a section of Indians against another. That was a depth no other politician has ever plumbed on any occasion, even while electioneering. The Congress’ complaint against Mr Modi’s speeches is still pending with the EC but he has never thought it necessary to slow down. The EC’s silence appears to have energised him further instead, as seen by the increasing sharpness of his deliveries.

The EC has not yet responded convincingly to the questions several people, including political leaders and observers, have raised on the delay in the publication of the final voting percentages in the first and second phases of the election or its failure to explain the sharp rise in the tentative and final polling percentages or even its unwillingness to make public the absolute number of votes polled in each constituency. Strangely, if found it necessary to issue a terse rebuttal to Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge’s letter to his alliance partners raising the very same questions.

Instead of answering Mr Kharge’s doubts, the EC admonished him for “creating impediments in the conduct of free and fair elections”, saying his concerns were “reflective of a biased and deliberate attempt to spread confusion”. Mr Kharge was surprised that the EC never bothered to address the concerns he had raised in his complaints to the poll body but it chose to respond to the letter he had written to his alliance partners.

The complaints that are pending with the EC reflect all that has gone wrong with the election and the failure to find proper solutions to them will go down in history despite the EC’s attempt to paint a rosy picture.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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