Barely a fortnight ahead of the two-seat bypoll, principal opposition party DMK has launched a scathing attack on the Election Commission (EC), questioning its neutrality.
Remarking that the democracy was put to shame whenever the EC hesitates or fails to fully exercise its freedom or allows the Centre to invade its freedom, the DMK editorial said the interference of the Centre on the functioning of the Commission has been on the rise ever since the BJP led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi formed government in 2014. Reiterating that the ruling BJP, which has been eroding several other autonomous institutions by forcibly interfering in their affairs, has not spared the EC either.
Listing out numerous instances since the months leading to the April-May Lok Sabha elections, especially Modi’s repeated reference to Balakot strikes and UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s “Modi Ki Sena” remarks during the LS poll campaigns, the DMK said the EC had failed to act on many cases despite knowing fully well that acts of PM among ruling party leaders were blatant poll code violations.
Democracy enthusiasts, who anticipated radical changes in the approach of the Commission, mainly in asserting its autonomy, at least after Modi took over as PM for the second term, were only in for disappointment, said the party organ of the third largest party in the Parliament.
Citing the most recent case of compromise by the EC, which reduced the period of disqualification of Sikkim Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang, who was administered oath of office by the Governor despite him being ineligible under Representation of People Act, the DMK said the approach of EC, which overlooked the 2003 Amendment providing for six-year disqualification of people convicted under Prevention of Corruption Act, has drawn criticism.
“The Election Commission, which was once a fortress of election, which is the foundation of a democracy, has now been reduced to a circus tiger obeying the whip,” the DMK slammed, apparently, accusing the Commission of conforming to the diktats of the BJP-led Centre.