Never before in the history of independent India the election watchdog the Election Commission of India has been so much under questions as it is now. It’s impartiality is under severe doubts so much so that in Hindi it has been nicknamed as “KECHUA”(केंद्रीय चुनाव आयोग =के चु आ ) means spineless reptile. The ruling party and its leader top from Prime Minister Narendra Modi down to a talluqa level leader are openly flouting model code of conduct, blatantly resorting to communalism and dividing the voters on communal lines. Sometime it is Shamshan vs Qabristan some time it is the question of electric supply during Eid and Diwali, illumination in Pakistan if BJP is defeated or state will become the den of terrorists if BJP is defeated etc. Hundreds of complaints are lodged but not once action has been taken against any senior BJP leader. The commission which once has defrenchised leader like Bal Thackeray is alleged to have become an ally of ruling BJP. It is jokingly said that Election Commission has refused to merge with BJP but will continue to extend outside support. No other chief election commissioner has been subjected to so much ridicule and criticism as the present one has been. People are fondly remembering late Seshan and Lyngdoh who have shown the nation what the election commission should be and could be.
In recently held five state assembly , the program for assembly election in Bengal was so chalked out that was giving clear edge to BJP. Everyone knows that BJP has made it a prestige issue to win the Bengal through any fair or foul means. For this it has been working there with its full might. Thousands of RSS workers have been deputed there from Hindi belt for the last three years. State governor is blatantly flouting his constitutional obligations and is working as the leader of opposition. The state is divided on communal lines 70% (Hindus) vs 30% (Muslims). Assembly election is Bengal are held in 8 phases. While 234 member Tamil Nadu assembly elections are conducted in single phase, 294 member Bengal assembly election are being conducted in 8 phases to provide BJP and its top leadership including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah maximum time to campaign and dry up the financial resources of oppositions parties of which there is no scarcity with BJP.
As if it was not enough the commission during the midst of election released an advertisement invoking armed forces shamelessly forgetting that it has itself banned the use of armed forces during election campaign. The advertisement that appeared on the day of fourth phase of polling in Bengal displays the silhouette of the “Amar Jawan Jyoti” and cartoonists Laxamn’s common man as paying homage to martyred soldiers. The advt. asked the readers “They sacrifice for the country. Can’t you even vote for the country” Everyone remembers that this dialogue was coined by BJP at the time of demonetization when lakhs of people were forming the que before the banks to get some money in exchange of their demonetized Rs. 500 and 1000 currency notes. In the past the Election Commission has advised political parties to desist from displaying photographs of Defence personnel and of functions involving these soldiers in advertisements or otherwise as part of their electioneering. This instruction and guidelines stem from the logic that our armed forces are apolitical and neutral stakeholders in a modern democracy and hence should not be dragged into an election.
A former Election Commissioner while criticizing this advertisement said that it is probably first time in the history of Election Commission that such an advertisement has been issued “The poll watchdog is expected to play by the same rule. You can’t stop political parties from using the Defence forces and then go ahead and do it yourself.” He said.
The arguments given by EC in favour of this advertisement is laughable. A senior officer of the commission said “we are not politicizing the armed forces for electoral gains. Our purpose is to exhorts voters to come out and vote” Very good intention indeed but why at the fourth phase of election in Bengal and why only remaining Bengali voters are exhorted why not voters of other state’s voter that have gone to poll were exhorted through this advertisement? .
The harsh fact is that every single l constitutional institution has lost its backbone. They all have been filled with the people of a definite ideology. Every single institution has been captured and controlled (CC formula of every authoritarian regime) and thus they are dancing to the tune of ruling party. If the sanctity of election is clouded democracy will not have a long life. This is a real threat which we all should realise and standup to save our constitutional democracy.