Mass Bribing of the Voters

Currently elections to the Uttar Pradesh Assembly are going on. A moral Code of Conduct for all political parties is in force during this period from the day the elections are notified till results are out. Parties are bound to observe the code. They are held liable if they dole out cash or liquor . Similarly, the state or the central government is not allowed to make policy announcements that are likely to allure the voters and affect a fair and free election. But the Congress Party and its Ministers at the Centre have been violating this law. The Law Minister was the first to promise 9% reservation in government jobs for the Muslims if they were voted to power in UP. The Election Commission of India took offence at such inducements. It asked for clarifications from the Law Minister, who replied through the media that he stood by his promise even if the Election Commission hanged him. The Election Commission found the conduct and the statements of the minister highly contemptuous and was quick to write to the President of India to take suitable action in the matter. The President forwarded the EC letter to the Prime Minister. No action was taken against the Law Minister, but the PM summoned him and after confabulations, the Law Minister sent a letter to the Commission regretting his statements and reiterating his faith in the Commission.The Commission chose to end the dispute at this stage.

It was incorrect on the part of the Commission to have ended the dispute at this stage.It was no game of chess between the minister and the Chief Election Commissioner of India & his team of members. Rules were violated, constitutional proprieties were breached, authority of the Election Commission of India challenged and the very Model Code of Conduct ridiculed as without fangs of the law. How could the EC even think of let go of a minister so lightly by simply “ending” the dispute. It was beyond the authority of the Election Commission of India to do so, it was an abuse of law, an undesirable exercise of authority by the EC. It is, perhaps, the worst case of mass bribing of the voters in UP, because more than 35% of them come from the Muslim community. Such mass bribing is worse than giving away cash or distributing free liquor during elections- a nefarious practice since the second General Elections in India

The dignity and authority of the Election Commission of India was established during the time of Seshan, who held the position of the Chief Election Commissioner of India. Since then, it has been lowered by successive pliant officers for whom it was a sinecure post retirement. They had no qualms of conscience in playing to the gallery so long as they had the assurance for continuing rewards. The result is that the institution of the Election Commission of India is being openly ridiculed by incumbent ministers in the Man Mohan Singh government. If the EC thought his ending the dispute will bring about any change in the belligerance of the ministers towards it, it was gravely wrong. Hardly had the EC announced that it was ending the dispute after receiving the Law Minister’s regret letter, another minister repeated the same statement with greater contempt added. If the CEC refuses to take action as required under the law to punish the violators of the rules and the code, it will be guilty of showing a tilt towards the Congress party, especially when it was so harsh towards the BSP that it ordered the covering of all the elephants in the public places, for the elephant is the election symbol of BSP. Excepting for the word “elephant”, the symbol and the statues in parks do have no similarity or resemblance. Can the CEC show the same spine against these ministers, so that none dares it again and elections can be held without mass bribery of the voters in a free and fair manner?

It is doubly uninspiring that the GOP of India, the Congress Party has to depend on mass bribing of the voters in this ill advised manner rather than on its sound ideological policies in public  interest. It needs no mention that the recent attack on the Israeli defence attache’s wife in the highest security district of New Delhi is also being underplayed only in view of the voters in UP. Any straight revelations of the names and nationalities of the perpetrators of the dastardly attack is feared to adversely affect the voting for the Congress in UP in the remaining two phases. Such shortsightedness is going to prove ruinous for the nation. The Election Commission of India should not be a part of any such project debilitating India!

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