03 May 2019

Any erosion in the people’s confidence in the fairness of the ECI has very grave consequences for the future of our democracy.” In a letter addressed to President Ram Nath Kovind, a group of bureaucrats have bemoaned the ‘weak-kneed’ responses of the Election Commission in the run up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The letter points to various violations of the model code of conduct and illustrates how the EC took little action, if any, on most of the complaints that have been filed with it.

In the letter, which has also been sent to the Chief Election Commissioner and other Elections Commissioners, the Concerned Group of Citizens ask the EC to “conduct itself in a manner where its independence, fairness, impartiality and efficiency are not questioned and to firmly exercise the extensive mandate given to it under Article 324 of the Constitution of India to ensure that the Indian voter is able to exercise her/his franchise without fear or favour”.

The bureaucrats give several examples of violations where the EC has not taken the proper steps – from Yogi Adityanath’s ‘Modiji ke sena’ speech, to NaMo TV, a channel dedicated to all things Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It also brings up the prime minister’s speech after India conducted an anti-satellite test as well as a TV show, Modi: A Common Man’s Journey, about Modi that has five episode

It also ask why the EC has so far only sought a report about the prime minister’s divisive speech at Wardha, where he had said: “The Congress insulted Hindus. People have decided to punish it in the election. Leaders of that party are now scared of contesting from constituencies dominated by the majority population. That is why they are forced to take refuge in places where the majority is a minority.”

The retired civil servants also bring up the EC’s “obdurate conduct and its reluctance to undertake a proper VVPAT audit”. n

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Kabeer Katlat

The Communist movement in India has a history of almost a century after the salvos of October Revolution in Russia brought Marxism-Leninism to the people of India who were engaged in the national liberation struggle against the British colonialists. It is a complex and chequered history.