While every second news update on our televisions relates to politics, every third, nowadays, relates to the violation of model code of conduct. What makes leaders so stouthearted that they publicly challenge the laid down standards? Considerable to note, two eminent codes under the model code of conduct read (1) No party or candidate shall indulge in any activity which may aggravate existing differences or create mutual hatred or cause tension between different castes and communities, religious or linguistic, and (2) Criticism of other political parties, when made, shall be confined to their policies and programme, past record and work.
I remember the incidence when a minister in the MP state government was slapped with a notice for disregarding the model code on October 18th 2013. He was accused of distributing money during campaigning and criticizing the EC code of conduct in public. The next news I heard was his 6th consecutive win in the state elections. Shocked was I; however the incident was soon overlooked. The question that strikes is ‘Is EC incapable of ensuring stringent actions against such violations, or does EC let such infringements occur?’ Surely, the state is critical and calls for immediate rectifications so as to uphold the integrity of the process of electing public representatives. Mentioned hereunder are a few straight and severe violations followed by a conclusion.
It was uncomplicated for NCP chief, Sharad Pawar to advice voters to erase the ink mark and indulge in illicit voting both at Santara and Mumbai constituency. Later, Pawar claimed that his statement had a tinge of satire. The defilement, as usual, occasioned for an off-the-cuff warning by the EC. The SP leader motivated supporters not to care about the EC’s model codes during elections as the state is run by the SP and hence any cases against violators would subsequently be withdrawn. The inclusion of special treatment of cases against Muslims by judiciary bodies in the manifesto of AAP has crossed every imaginable limit of infringement.
Other prominent incidences include Sonia Gandhi’s appeal to the Muslim leaders for ensuring that the community votes do not split, Meghalaya’s CM Mukul Sangma misusing the public transport chopper service during the campaign for Daryl Momin, Raj Babbar extending the stipulated time during his roadshow, and Kejriwal violating the code by not seeking prior police approval for his roadshow in Gujarat. As per PTI, nearly 55,000 complaints were received by the EC till 19th March for model code violations, not a figure to be proud of.
What is expected out of a constitutional body that is responsible to ensure fair and unprejudiced process of voting? Definitely, the EC has to stand tough and make its sturdy presence felt. Swift cognizance of defaults must be guaranteed followed by severe penal actions. Political leaders and parties must not only be warned of their violations, the violators must be debarred from contesting. Defined strategy and laid down procedures are the need of the hour. To uphold the honor of the democracy, the EC has to part with the laid-back attitude and has to deliver examples that can threaten those who are fearless of laws and authority.