Election Commission can’t bite, only bark
Posted February 8, 2017on:
Election Commission has issued notice to Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar for allegedly asking the voters of poll-bound Goa to take money from leaders of other parties but vote for BJP. Earlier a similar complaint was made against Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
Election Commission had never had sharp teeth. But T N Seshan, as Chief Election Commissioner, had converted Election Commission into a frightening scarecrow. Politicians and bureaucrats were then taking extra care to ensure that they did not transgress the Model Code of Conduct. Today Election Commission does not even scare the miscreants.
Decency and decorum in election campaigns are fast becoming part of history. Campaigners seem to be vying with each other to show their baser side in public speeches. During Assembly and Lok Sabha polls, Election Commission receives thousands of complaints of violation of Model Code of Conduct by candidates or other party leaders, some of the complaints being pretty serious. One does not recall if Election Commission has taken any serious action against the culprits.
There are certain laws giving some powers to Election Commission, but these are not enough. More importantly, Election Commission does not have its own workforce to enforce its orders even if it wants to take stern action in a case. It has to depend on the officers and employees of State and Central governments for carrying out its orders. They are put under the Election Commission during the operation of the Model Code of Conduct. After that they are at the mercy of their political bosses in the State or at the Centre.
There have been instances of some officers following Election Commission directives honestly and, thereby, displeasing the ruling party in the State. Such officers are harassed by the government of the State as soon as the period of Model Code of Conduct is over. On the other hand, the officers who please the political bosses in the State by making a mockery of the Election Commission guidelines are subsequently rewarded. Election Commission cannot do anything in either case.
Only a cynic can think of following Election Commission guidelines honestly if these do not suit the partisan interests of the ruling party in the State.