..Of Institutional Integrity

By Sunil Dang, Editor-in-Chief

India is witnessing a historic election. The outcome shall largely determine what type of polity & democracy we shall become for years to come. Lot of water has flown down the sacred rivers in the last five years. The undercurrent of a society fractured is borne out of a spate of vicious debates & discourse hinged on jingoism, parallel nationalism & an appropriation of every small & big feat that India achieves. Not that anybody would grudge common masses any amount of celebration or rejoicing of the events that brought glory to the nation. But when those responsible for maintaining the code & respect for the directives of the Election Commission in the midst of an important election, then they must stand scrutiny & fair process of a trial.

The health and regard for any democratic institution in the country is reinforced by making examples of proprietary & ethical conduct involving the PM that is in line with the laid down provisions. Clearly then propagandist instances like ‘NAMO TV’, ModiJi Ki Sena’, ‘the political Biopics’ are a convenient tool in the hands of aspiring political leaders to influence the voters. Kudos to the ECI,that has shown remarkable alacrity in dealing with such issues & put the erring protagonists on notice, while adjudicating their acts of omission & commission;Its task is complicated because the manipulation of its functioning &some other institutions has taken on new forms yet to be understood fully, and the ECI is at great risk of becoming helpless and eventually dissolving into partisanship.

The Supreme Courthas taken cognizance of certain facts about the Rafale deal hitherto in the realms of speculation. We may now see a real chance of a reconsideration of the Review petition by the court & the outcome may or may not be sweet news for the government, which I think has unnecessarily tied itself in knots over the issue. Regardless, the debate rages on. More uncomfortable is the news about electoral bonds that have also come under scrutiny of the SC, even though the initial observations by the august court have been milder, for want of a better explanation. So paradoxical for the dispensation that swore by clean politics & uncompromising outlook to nationalism;

The heat & dust of the Lok Sabha polls is building up. As usual most of the political parties are resorting to rhetorical flourish, wooing the electorate with their guile & promise. The first phase is over & the turnout has been a decent one in almost all the 91 constituencies, including that of Baramulla in Kashmir valley that saw a voter turnout of 35%. One would expect the electorate to be wise enough to see through the machinations of those who would go all out to secure their vote. In all this Razzmatazz, Media as usual has a great role to play. As responsible watchdogs, it is incumbent on all mainstream media (Print & Electronic) to exercise absolute caution & journalistic discretion in bringing out the real news to the masses without any unnecessary inclination to one particular ideology or the other. Only then they would have honored their oath & fulfilled their duty.

Again the regional parties are emerging as dark horses in this election. There is every likelihood of Mamta (Trinamool); Stalin (DMK), Jagan Reddy (YSR); BSP (Mayawati), SP (Akhilesh), Chandrasekhar (KCR) collectively bagging anywhere between 110 – 125 seats & that is a critical mass going by what the poll forecasts have suggested. Although none of these individually have the potential to become the so called King makers, yet they will have a serious role to play in any formation, should the possibility of a coalition emerge in the ultimate analysis.

On the economic front, we do not have a great picture to show. Jet Air crisis is deepening even when the government is making desperate efforts to save the airline from sinking. The extraordinary interest shown by the BJP in rescuing the beleaguered airline says a lot about how it is anticipating adverse reaction by the electorate in the ongoing Lok Sabha polls.

I sign off with an appeal to the people to go out & vote & enjoy your fundamental right to elect the government of your choice. This is your duty & right, both.

Jai Ho!