The Election Commission of India is Doing a Fabulous Job! But Should be More Proactive in Addressing Concerns!

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ECI
  • At the outset, let us applaud wholeheartedly how the Election Commission of India (ECI) has gone about conducting fair, free, and largely flawless polls over the last few decades. The credentials of the ECI are not only acknowledged within the country but also renowned around the world for undertaking such a humongous exercise allowing the citizens to exercise their universal franchise in free and fair elections. The monumental challenges encountered vis-à-vis logistical arrangements to undertake the mother of all elections like the Lok Sabha polls call for meticulous planning, preparedness, and execution is no mean task. Imagine, almost 100 crore eligible voters exercised their rights in the recently concluded Parliamentary polls.

MCC

PC: Next IAS

  • Nonetheless, certain areas must be further fine-tuned to ensure the ECI is on top of expectations from the general public. The Model Code of Conduct (MCC) is one area that deserves to be relooked at since the political class was allowed to let go of free despite several incidents of below-the-belt accusations thrown around uninhibitedly. Also, the issue of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) keeps cropping up now and then though the Supreme Court has set aside the apprehension raised from different quarters about the tampering allegations. More concerningly, as reported, the Mumbai North-West Lok Sabha victory would snowball into a controversy was almost a given since the margin of victory was found to be too close for comfort.
  • When the Shinde Sena nominee beat the UBT Sena candidate by 48 votes after recounting both EVMs and postal ballots, concerns of a miscount amped up to strong suspicions of misconduct in opposition camps. UBT Sena and others allege three serious counts of wrongdoing. One, Shinde Sena candidate’s agent/associate used a mobile phone inside the counting area. None except the Returning Officer can carry a mobile phone into counting centers. Call records of this phone are under police investigation. Two, following SC’s order to store all VVPAT machines with symbol loading units, UBT Sena has sought technical inspection of the same – but the EC website has no SOP for such a technical probe, so it’s vague what the probe might entail.

Shiv Sena

PC: The Indian Express

  • Three, allegations center on RO at the NESCO center, the site of irregularities. That very day, both the candidate and party workers raised alarm over the counting. Once the presence of an unauthorized phone was established, surely the EC could have reacted immediately by putting out a statement. This kind of incident put EC in the spotlight, not simply the state poll commission. And every such incident contributes to the chatter. For instance, before counting day, the opposition sought EC walk-back on allowing postal ballots to be counted after EVMs. Law says postal ballots be counted first. Why tweak that in the first place? EC must communicate to today’s alert electorate on its due processes. Nothing wrong with going back to the boardroom for this.