Bhopal: A discussion on the role of Election Commission — is doing a round on social media. A section of people say that the poll panel has brought a lot of improvement in conduction of elections while others insist on more electoral reforms.
“One should not forget the scenes during elections in 1990s. All walls of private and public properties were full of posters by various political parties. Blaring sound of loudspeakers gave severe headaches during a month of campaigning by political parties,” said Professor (political science) Sadhna Pandey.
Commenting on current scenario, she adds that reforms are processes and it takes time for cent percent results. When defacement of property Act was introduced there were thousands of complaints but in the subsequent elections the menace came down. Similarly, now the election commission has introduced clauses related to criminal pasts and has also come strict on adhering to poll code by netas like declaring their movable and immovable assets and other details. “It takes time for the new law to show results,” adds Pandey.
The election commission needs to do a lot more, feels businessman Jinesh Jain. “The power that lies with election commission is limited. It only recommends disciplinary action. It should be given more power,” said Jain. During election, the poll conducting body gets complaints in large numbers – often in hundreds every day. Does the commission have enough resources to conduct free and fair elections in largest democracy of the world, asks Jain.
Officials of election commission admit to the problem of resources but not on record. A part of complaint system is dependent on outsourced persons. The team that receives complaints, segregates it constituency wise and forward it to concerned sections belongs to the outsourced section. It is after the primary treatment that complaints are send to concerned authorities for action. Other miscellaneous unimportant works are also outsourced. The efficacy of the outsourced team is under question as employees quit frequently. The placement agency replaces it immediately but it takes some time for the new person to understand the work and adjust with the work culture.
Chief Electoral Officer, VL Kantha Rao said that electoral reforms are long term process. The EC has come up with publicizing the candidate’s criminal record in public. Its impact would be seen clearly in next elections, he added. The election commission may be called an independent body but like any other autonomous body like the CBI or the RBI, it too is influenced by the government in power. A mechanism should be developed to keep it completely free from government pressures, said retired army officer, Girijesh Saxena. Saxena nurses hope from proposed electoral reform that promotes common electoral fund for the political parties so that corruption is minimized from the country.