By Aravind Govekar
VOTERS in the whole of Madhya Pradesh and for 70 seats in Chhattisgarh, are going to polls today that is November 17, 2023. Voting has already begun. The Code of Conduct which has been already notified sometime back by the Election Commission of India prescribes various do’s and don’ts for political parties. The objective is to ensure a level playing field for all political parties and candidates.
That is the reason why practically the whole of bureaucracy in the poll-bound states has to work under the control of the Election Commission till the election process is over. The effectiveness of the Code of Conduct depends largely on the moral integrity of the Election Commission and its loyalty to the Constitution, as against its eagerness to please the incumbent prime minister and the ruling party. For the last 10 years or so, during which time the BJP government started its march from Indian democracy towards a theocratic dictatorship, there are reasons to believe that the Election Commission is acting more like a government department rather than a Constitutional institution.
THIS week, the government of India has transferred Rs2,000 each to several lakh farmers in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Telangana. Such money transfers are not only prohibited during the pendency of the Code of Conduct, but even a mere announcement of such transfers is banned. That these transfers are an unabashed attempt to influence farmers in the poll-bound states is obvious from the fact that farmers in constituencies which have already gone to polls have reportedly not yet received this bonanza. The absence of any strong action by the Election Commission to stop such money transfers just a few days before polling, should be immediately questioned by the Opposition parties which seem to be benumbed by the enormity of the Modi-Shah duo’s attacks on the Indian democracy.
As expected, Modi and Shah and other top leaders of the BJP have begun using their favorite strategy of communal polarization in the four poll-bound states. Home Minister Amit Shah in a huge rally in Madhya Pradesh promised a free darshan of Ramlalla in the new Shri Ram temple in Ayodhya if BJP is voted back to power. The use of “Bajrang Bali” by Modi in Karnataka elections, when the prime minister of India publicly appealed to the Karnataka voters to say “Bajrang Bali Kii Jai” before pressing the button on EVM, was nothing but an unabashed defiance of the Code of Conduct. The Election Commission did nothing about it. This time, when Modi & Shah and other leaders of the BJP, publicly involved Hindu gods in the current state elections and later in the Lok Sabha Elections, it is futile to expect the Election Commission to wake up and act.
THE Enforcement Directorate is a part of bureaucracy but the way it has pressed the accelerator on its activities, it is obvious that the Modi-Shah duo will leave no stone unturned to defeat the Congress. ED has reportedly conducted 172 raids in poll-bound states after the Code of Conduct was notified. About 135 of these were reportedly raids on Opposition candidates. It is too much to expect the Election Commission to have the guts to stop this misuse of government “servants” during the pendency of the Code of Conduct.
The Election Commission seems to be over active in issuing show-cause notices to Priyanka Gandhi for her barbs against Narendra Modi. It is too much to expect the commission to issue such show-cause notices to Narendra Modi for the desperate abusive language he has started using while attacking Congress leaders led by Rahul Gandhi.
One can only hope that, notwithstanding a weak and diffident Election Commission, results of this elections on December 3 will amply prove that voters have conclusively rejected communal politics and unconstitutional dictatorship.