The EC is a watchdog and is vested with powers to ensure a free and fair election.
The Election Commission has been a formidable institution. I remember the authority and respect it enjoyed during the tenures of Chief Election Commissioners T.N. Seshan and J.M. Lyngdoh. Come 2019 and in the wake of incidents involving a breach of the Model Code of Conduct, it seems to function like a toothless entity. Fortunately for us the Supreme Court intervened (“SC happy with EC regaining tooth to act,” April 17, Gulf Today).
It was only after the apex court pulled up the ECI, that it changed tack and passed a flurry of orders against Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mayawati and others for delivering communally laced speeches. It was utterly unbelievable to see the EC plead helplessness on the matter until the SC rap.
For now, the EC has managed to regain lost ground, giving us some hope, but it needs to do much more and promptly. There are still multiple cases of violation and transgression of the code and in newer ways than before. The EC has no doubt come out with strict guidelines on dissemination of news on social networking sites, but its implementation is also equally important.
The EC is a watchdog and is vested with powers to ensure a free and fair election. It must play its role effectively if we the people are to have faith in this institution which is duty bound to protect our electoral rights.
Moidu P, By email