Trust The Constitution

Trust The Constitution

So, the long Election Battle has come to an end with a Dream Result. Not many would have expected this given the multiple avenues exploited by the Reigning Rulers. But that is past now.

While the Victors are rightfully engaged gleefully celebrating the exploits, the Vanquished are still trying to find their feet. The defining silence in the camp of the parties that have lost in the election speaks loudly about the Power of the People to decide the course the Nation needs to take.

While The Dynasty would be now busy in ‘Detoxifying’ itself from the ‘Zeher of Satta’ , the ‘Feudal’ Lords and Pseudo-Secularism Oriented Opportunists would reveal their flexible Morality to encounter the perceived threat that the Election Results have brought.

The casualties have been many. There have been unbelievable results in UP, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Uttarakhand , Bihar, Maharashtra  and Gujarat. Results have thrown up the new Dynamics of India that aspires to break away from the Caste, Clan and Religion based exploitation of the Nation by a handful of cunning individuals.

But what this Election 2014 has thrown up as a subject of discussion is the Electoral System of India. Traditionally, the Election Commission (EC) in India has been considered to be a Fair and Transparent Institution. Perhaps, this Election came close to raising fingers on that unblemished record of the EC.

Nonetheless, some very important facts came to light and remained unresolved in the Process. It is time to take up these concerns.

The EVMs have been a source of suspicion throughout the Election. All parties participating in the Election have expressed their concern. After Losing the Election in Mumbai , Sanjay Nirupam has alleged tampering of EVMs by Amit Shah. Rahul Gandhi has been reported to have attempted to repair EVMs in Amethi. EC needs to share with the People the details of every EVM that has been questioned by any of the contestants.

Deletion of Names from the Electoral Rolls caused a huge ripple in many places. An estimated 60 lakh voters across the nation were deprived of their Right to Franchise. This is a denial of a Constitutional Right. Despite the Election being a long 9 phase event with sufficient cushion of time, the EC did not find time to repair the Rolls. The seriousness of deletion of Names from Electoral Rolls appears to have not been given the appropriate weightage by the EC.

The EC has also been rather tentative in its implementation of the Model Code of Conduct.  Violations started within hours of the declaration of the Election 2014. It would be rather important that all the violations reported to the EC and the actions taken be made available to the Public. The Lead time taken by EC to initiate action after receiving the report of Violation also needs to be not only reviewed but also made available in the Public Domain. All the bases of such action or inaction must be clearly documented.

If a Code of Conduct does not help in ensuring adherence, it is no Model. And the defect lies in the implementation and not the Code itself. EC owes  an explanation to the Nation being the Implementation Agency of the Code.

After having conducted the Election 2014 in the manner that EC has done, it would be interesting to know why it was a 9 phase event and why it could not have been done in lesser number of phases. Why was it that a single day polling could not be done in some states while it could be done in some other states. Was it a resource constraint? What were the estimated resources required and by how much did the resources fall short of the estimation, had the EC decided for a single day Voting in States like UP ?

People of the Nation are the Largest Stakeholders of the Constitution. In an age of Technology pervading all areas of life, for some curious reason, the EC chose to keep the Electorate entirely plugged out of the happenings. Instead of allowing news reports to confuse the Public about the activities of the EC, it would be better to open channels of communication through Social Media ensuring authorized status updates to quell the doubts of the People.

There are many legislative reforms that are also needed. Surely, the new Government would take it into consideration and bring an age of Transparent and Trustworthy Electoral Process. Till then, time for EC to retrospect and engage with the Electorate to bring back the lost Trust.


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Shashank Chowdhury

Shashank Chowdhury is a Banking Professional having spent 34 years in Development of Systems for Banking with special focus on inclusive banking in the remote Rural Areas.

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3 comments

  • R.Kasthuri Rengan

    As far as my knowledge goes, ever since, Mr. Seshan has become Election Commissioner, EC wielded its authority in right earnest with strictness. However too much of his domination resulted in appointment of 2 more ECs with equal powers, appointing one as the Chief amongst them. In every election, the scope of authority/investigation has increased and sometimes even the planned and normal project proposed to be implemented by State or Centre has been stalled by EC under the guise that such plans would influence the voters. It has gone to such an extent that every small or big issues have been magnified by the other contesting parties before the EC for taking appropriate action. Sometimes I wonder, whether EC is going over board. In U.P elections, lakhs and lakhs of rupees spent to cover the elephant statues goes to show whether that decision taken is in right perspective . Any way, over the years, because of strictest vigilance, crores of rupees meant for giving to voters have been seized. Till date, I do not know, whether any criminal action has been taken against all those persons/parties involved in such incidents. So be that as it may, let us not raise our fingers against EC with regard to fairness.
    As far as tampering of EVM is concerned, I’ve my own doubts with regard to that. No one will go the extent of tampering. Gone are the days, when goondas enter and stamp the ballot papers in Bihar and other places. Even where Rahul was present and flashed in the media, I don’t think he would have attempted to repair the EVM. Actually i believe candidate has the right to visit before the polls for checking EVMs . Any way his presence in one or two booths after the polls started, perhaps to know the conditions of EVMs caused flutters. The Presiding officer/polling officers on seeing such a big personality might have explained the situation prevailing there. Otherwise, nothing beyond that point is attributable to him according to me. In fact EC has given the clearance.
    As regards deletion of names in electoral rolls, I’ll not find fault with EC at all. Around 3 to 6 months prior to the polls, local election commission in all states have publicised the electoral rolls for the public for checking, corrections etc. It was oft published in the news papaers for the sake of public for verification of their names in the electrol rolls. In respect of new voters, the authorities have given enough time to enroll as a voter. The first electoral roll, the revised were all kept for public for verification in all municipal/corporation/ some places in post offices. To what extent people took intiative to see whether their names are there in the roll or not is a big question mark. In fact, the staff deputed for election work visited almost every house to verify whether the names of the voters are there, etc and taken acknowledgment. In spite of all this, if names are not found in the electoral roll, I can only say those people are unfortunate. We cannot throw blame always on authorities. What is the poll percentage? Say roughly 60%. What about the rest? Even assuming that 10% could not come due to so many committed reasons, what made the remaining 30% not to cast their votes.? It is shear lethargy. So people are also to be blamed to a certain extent.
    Another factor to be noted is that EC does not have a huge organisation like other Government departments. There is a skeleton staff. For all purpose, they engage municipal/corporation employees on deputation basis. This results in stalling of their routine work. For the purpose of election, Govt staff/ bank employees/teaching staff etc are all deputed to do the polling work. Higher officials of IAS, IRS ranks are deputed to different places for the purpose of watching the poll expenses and other connected work. So over all, even though EC work has to be modernised to a large extent, at present they are doing a very good job with the current infrastructure available.
    You have mentioned about why it was 9 phase pollings and not lesser? At one point of time, it was on a single day throughout India. Now the situation is totally totally different. Ground realities, Extremism, mobilisation of police force from one state to another and so many other factors may be the reasons to keep 9 phase pollings. In Assam/ West Bengal, I think elections were held in 3 phases, whereas in Tamilnadu it was on a single day. Evereything depends on volatility of the situation.
    So , though you have raised valid points on some key issues, I feel, in the near future some effective measures will be taken for the betterment of system.
    I’ve given my view points. Hope I’ve convinced you to the level I understand. … Thank You.

  • sandesh manroa

    Sir!Good article.Government shud do away with these EVMZzz .Whole word has rejected these machines. New Government shud do its work sincerely. We need only that. Promises to be fullfilled.Not an easy Job but to start with shud show that we are here to perform.EC has been given power to perform impartially.So do your duty with honesty.

  • Constitution of India is given by the people, for the people. It is not alien to policies of a government in power. Nor is it the property of the party in saddle of governance. EC and NHRC and their likes are neither from space nor above board as individuals man these constitutional offices. Appointees are of previous regime. Change all to truly grasp meaning of a constitution which unifies people ,policies and quality of life. Jai hind.