EC Needs Course Correction

Election Commission (EC)

By Sunil Dang

Five state elections are over and the poll pundits have now shifted their focus on Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and some other assemblies going to polls before 2019. I have been vocal that such series of elections hamper development and both parliamentary and assembly elections should be conducted at one shot paving way for next five years of sustained developmental works. Even the Supreme Court of India and various government institutions, including current NDA government, have been batting for conducting parliamentary and assembly polls together. However, my point here is not to bat for conduction all polls at one time but to urge the Elections Commission (EC) of India to rethink its decision to go for phased polls that span for more than one month.

By going into such large number of phased polls, the EC has unknowingly stalled the development in the state for near quarter of the year. Normally, poll dates are announced around one month before the beginning of the elections, then after if we go by the UP polls, it took around one and half month, then it would take extra fifteen days before a new government takes over. Since, UP was going to polls, people of the state were deprived of the major developmental decisions that either centre or state government could have taken. But, what was the reason for forcing states like Goa, Punjab and Uttarakhand, which voted on February 4th, to wait till March 11th — more than one month post completion of the polls for their results. Rather announcing the results of these states, the election commission unnecessarily stalled development in these three states for its convenience. If the results had been announced in Punjab, Goa and Uttarakhand, there could have been a one month older government swinging in with developmental measures.

Some people may argue here that had the EC announced poll results of these three states when UP assembly polls were mid way, it would have affected the voters. To counter such arguments, I would like to add, if this was the case, why did they announce the BMC and Odisha Panchayat poll results? If poll results of other state can affect other state voters, then how come this argument doesn’t fit into the BMC and Odisha Panchayat polls? I would also like to remind those people that it’s not the job of Election Commission to indulge into the nitty-gritty of the political outcome of the election results. The EC’s job is to conduct free and fair elections only.

Therefore, it’s high time for the EC to understand that public convenience comes ahead of any institutional convenience. Nothing comes ahead of governance and the EC denied it by prolonging the assembly poll results of Punjab, Goa and Uttarakhand. Thankfully, the union budget was passed on its schedule, otherwise whole nation should have been put in limbo as it required near two months for our EC to conduct free and fair elections. However, I would like to add here that the EC should focus on its job of conducting a peaceful election and then give result of the elections immediately after the polls are over. The way it has handled current five state elections, putting development on hold, is unacceptable because none of the institution is above the people of India.