One Last Cry Before the Count


The left parties of India have called a nationwide protest on 13 May. They have charged that the 16th Lok Sabha election was conducted unfairly marred by proxy voting and boot capturing. Highlighting that people could not exercise their democratic right in a proper way because of money and muscle power that the powerful people use during the time of election. Accusations have been raised that there have been gross violation of election Code of Conduct across the country. The Left and Secular Alliance of Manipur in response to the call of their central leadership had joined the protest. It was only a few days back that the Alliance’s candidate Dr M Nara along with leaders from the BJP and Trinammol had lodged complaint against the Congress candidate for the Inner Parliamentary constituency Dr T Meinya, who is also the incumbent MP. They have charged Dr T Meinya of violating the election Code of Conduct during the second phase of election, on the day of polling. They have already submitted their complaint to the Election Commission of India along with video evidence. Apparently there was lukewarm response from the ECI. The Commission seems to have swept aside the complaint with a halfhearted promise to look into the matter, saying that re-poll will be conducted at stations where poll turn out have crossed ninety percent. But that has not happened as the counting of votes is already set to begin, much to the chagrin of Dr M Nara and the Alliance. Peeved by the inaction of the ECI, the Alliance has directly blamed the ECI of favouring the ruling party. The Alliance has also charged the ruling party of weakening democracy. Now much water has flowed under the Lok Sabha election bridge. All eyes and ears shall be on the counting results that are expected on May 16. But what needs to be pondered upon is the serious allegation that Dr M Nara has made on a constitutionally established autonomous body like the ECI. A relevant question is: how far can the ECI maintain the integrity of political neutrality? This is indeed a tricky proposition. For one, the ECI functionaries are citizens of India. Like any other citizen, they have a right to elect a representative by vote. While casting their vote they have to make a choice among the candidates of different political parties in the fray. Can they escape from the ideological predilection that they might have, owing to the fact that they belong to the informed group of citizens of this country? Secondly, the top rungs of the officials are in a way inducted through political appointments. For instance, the Chief Election Commissioner appointed by the President of India, based on recommendation from the incumbent government. In 2012, its reformation to remove any dint of bias or lack of transparency and fairness was demanded by the then Deputy Prime Minister of India, L K Advani. He had suggested that appointment of CEC should be made by a bipartisan collegium consisting of the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice, the Law Minister and the leaders of the Opposition in Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha. Similar demands were made by many former Chief Election Commissioners such as B B Tandon, N Gopalaswamy and S Y Quraishi. Besides the power equation that the bureaucrats share with the law makers is never too easy to define. One is reminded of the satirical British sitcom ‘Yes Minister’ broadcasted by the British Broadcasting Corporation as a television series. The series is set in the private office of a British Cabinet minister and the Department of Administrative Affairs, in which the minister and the bureaucrat try to push each other’s boundary to serve their own interest. The sitcom is a fictional political drama, but it has its relevancy with the cohabiting nature of the bureaucrats and the politicians; especially when it comes to bartering of favour of all kinds. Till then, let us wait for the election result


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