Election Commission of India: What happened to neutrality? - April 15, 2019

The election commission of India is facing one of the worst credibility crises since its inception. Multiple questions are being raised on the functioning of the election commission and its bias towards the BJP. Currently, the commission has been heavily criticised by the opposition parties, media persons and political analysists, equally. Even before the announcement of the election dates, the commission has been thoroughly criticised for delaying the election dates and allowing Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, to complete the introduction of ongoing projects (roads and schemes which are already functioning).

“No party or candidate shall include in any activity which may aggravate existing differences or create mutual hatred or cause tension between different castes and communities, religious or linguistic.”

The aforementioned declaration is one of the first rules and code of conduct of the election commission, which has been found to be violated time and again, recently. The commission has become a mute spectator and is seen to allow hate speeches invoking religious sentiments by BJP ministers, leaders and the PM. In a bid to polarize the electorate, the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Yogi Adityanath has triggered a controversy by stating, “Congress and the grand alliance think that Ali (Prophet Mohammed’s son in law) will help them in the polls…... but we think that Bajrangbali (Lord Hanuman) will help us.” The election commission’s silence and inaction on such comments are responsible for its damage and pose a serious threat to its credibility.

In India, independent institutions form the major pillars to run a successful, democratic state. The weakening of these independent institutions will gradually lead to a political crisis in the country. The questioning on election commission is not a mere technical point but is rather a political one as the BJP is using such institutions for its own political benefits. To counter such political use of the election commission, one must choose what kind of politics we need to establish to facilitate the functioning of autonomous institutions that protect the democratic and secular fabric of the country.

- Dr. V. Lenin Kumar