23 Dec 2007

EC on Gujarat Elections. Just as predicted

Gujarat Elections
It wasn't long back when I wrote about how sledging wars were being carried out in the run down to the Gujarat Elections [click here for the last post]. I has also predicted that there would be no major action by the Election Commission and the results of the alleged notices issued would be out only after the elections are done with.

And then rediff reports exactly the same; "Poll Violation: EC warns Modi, lets off Sonia", as if warning is of much significance in the political arena. Plus the proceedings are given way to only when the elections are over and there result declaration is not very far.

It seems Election Commission has not remained the same vigilant watch-dog of Indian democracy.

Election Commission's role

Though it has been in vogue since the conception of the democracy in India with the Constitution specifically providing for one, it was not until the appointment of Mr. T.N. Sheshan that the Election Commission got a noticeable role in the state of Indian political diaspora and regime. Appointed in 1990 as the Chief Election Commission of India, Mr. Sheshan reigned during the most vociferous times of Indian polita and perhaps that made him venture strongly against the ruling alliances.

Prior to him, the Election Commission had merely remained as a political armour in the hands of the ruling party at the Centre to use this mechanism of 'electoral mischief' against its opposition, both at the Centre and State levels. There was no independent thinking and mindset on the part of the Commission and perhaps the high number of election petitions during those times signify only that, as the candidates fearing in-action on the part of th Commission instead approached the Courts for looking into the irregularities on that court. The electoral dispute between Late Mrs. Indira Gandhi and Mr. Raj Narain which went upto the Supreme Court is the classic illustration of this. It took a Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court to decide upon the allegations, and rightly so, for it was clearly the job of the Election Commission where it was called upon to preform.

But then Mr. Sheshan was a man on a mission; mission to root corruption out of Indian politics. To quote wiki, "
As the Chief Election Commissioner of India he made history by introducing innovative electoral reforms and making the Election Commission a powerful body. He may be rightfully termed as the most visible and controversial public figure who redefined the status and visibility of a CEC in India. His name became synonymous with transparency, efficiency and forward vision during his tenure as the CEC." [read full article here]

Since then there have been many who have been appointed to dawn the role of Chief Election Commissioner [click here to see the full list] but none has been so successful like Mr. Sheshan where bachha-bachha knew his name. To recall, there was even a song on his name "... Sheshan ki sarkaar, tha mast kalandar ... "

But these present times fail to inspire confidence in this institution. There was even a PIL filed against the roles of the various functionaries of this institution in the Supreme Court (and I watched the entire proceedings myself in Court 3 with legal experts on both sides), which was taken back after a political compromise. Nonetheless the reputation of the Election Commission as an independent arbiter and watch-dog ensuring fair-play in the Indian political arena has definitely take a back seat and is dwindling with the coming times.

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