Election Commission, Neutral Observer or Active Enforcer

 By the Editor

Swiss are known for their neutrality, chocolates and protecting their clients’ interest. Election Commission is also known to follow similar behavioral pattern sometimes minus the chocolate off course. These elections are unprecedented in all aspects including the role election commission plays in facilitating the electoral process. Does EC really maintaining the decorum by disciplining one party more than others or doing the bidding of those it answers to but looking at the way things are going, it seems this referee is treating some players more equal than others.

The way the government agencies like CBI, EC and others operate largely depends on the kind of people they are led by. More times than often the officers responsible for running these agencies try to please or at least be on the good books of those writing their paycheck, that’s the reason they are chosen in the first place. In this election, EC apparently got into a tussle with BJP over things like worshipping on the banks of Ganga and a selfie but they looked more than willing to let against Gandhi family scion get away with an excuse who was caught on camera doing peeping Tom in the polling booth. This sorry affair would have been equally unsavory if the roles of BJP and Congress were reversed.

Another curve in the plot is that EC seems to give out show cause notices like marriage invitations on what can and cannot be said in the election campaigns. Do they really believe that they can control peoples tongue? What rules can be broken and what can be bent is completely mindboggling considering the vague and often whimsical guidelines that are applied on the campaign process and what’s the end result. Some party’s and politicians end up in word war challenging EC, which in turn put bans in place on rallies that are often disregarded by the candidates. Last heard reports were of EC along with UP police raiding of BJP offices in Varanasi just before the Election Day on a tipoff from a rival party. Is it score settling or maintain discipline we leave it at the discretion of the reader but these polemics give out a strong message to the average voters that functioning bodies of the government that are supposed to act independently can be used as a means to exact political vengeance against those in opposition by those in power. Another thing that’s unfortunate is that entities like EC behave as if they are above reproach and incapable of doing a folly. Election commission sets guidelines for elections but those who set guidelines for election commission often turn a blind eye when controversies of political favoritism surface.

Blame on the most part lies on those running the show. One option could be to let the legislative assemblies collectively choose the head of government agencies instead of the ruling side but to be honest, given the way parliament works in India, it unlikely we would ever have an impartial EC, CBI or Petroleum ministry for that matter. Sadly for us, Election commissioners come and goes but Election commission remains the same.

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