ethical polls!

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 04 Dec 2018 12:48:29

NEW Chief Election Commissioner Mr. Sunil Arora has followed his mandate to insist that elections should be free, fair and ethical. Upon assuming the coveted office, he has stressed the importance of proper elections, which is in tune with his duties as the country’s electoral chief. Despite this, even a child in the street would wonder if all the stakeholders in the electoral process really follow this triad of ‘free, fair, and ethical’ practices during elections. For, no matter all the moral appeals to the nation, elections in India have had their own issues that may not pass the litmus test of honesty. And once the word ‘honesty’ is under the scanner, everything else becomes secondary. This is the actual issue before the nation.

On the whole, Indian elections have been lauded by the world as a great exercise involving the principle of universal adult franchise. Hundreds of millions of people above the age of 18 step out of their homes and line up to cast votes in every election.

Barring a few exceptions, most elections in the country record fairly high percentage of voting. Yet, every election at any level leaves some bitter taste in the mouth on account of ethical issues that often go beyond the question of money spent by the candidates or their respective political parties. We have every reason to believe that Mr. Sunil Arora is talking about the issues that go far beyond funding.

There is little doubt that politics is not a game of fair dealing. And when the game boils down to elections, the dictum that ‘everything is fair in love and war’ is brought into play by almost all parties. And unfortunately, this idea gets an official acceptance in the huge percentage of electoral battles the country witnesses every five years. That ill-gotten money plays a big and dirty role in the elections, is actually the smaller part of the electoral battle. The bigger part is occupied by other issues involving blatant lie-telling, brazen show of power of money and muscle, uncouth and untrue propaganda, fake promises, nonsensical character-assassination of the rival candidates and their party-leaders ...! The question of ethicality gets buried under this ugly and ungainly method and manner.

It is obvious that Mr. Sunil Arora is traumatised by such issues. He might not have made specific mentions of many of these points, but the sum and substance of his appeal about “free, fair and ethical” elections encompasses all the undesirable dimensions of the country’s electoral business. In fact, the reason why many good people are opposed to participation in politics is the dirty gamesmanship indulged in by political leaders and their parties during the election time. Good people do not want to be party to politics which was described by George Bernard Shaw as “the last resort of the scoundrels”.

As the next general elections are barely six months away, the atmosphere is quite likely to get dirtier and murkier with senseless allegations, undesirable oneupmanship, and unaccounted money. When he referred to “free, fair and ethical” elections, Mr. Sunil Arora was certainly referring to many of the issues we just mentioned. There is no doubt that he will do his job in a most efficient manner, but his expectations about what the elections should be like, may not get fulfilled by the electoral and political games parties play.

However, this should not be the worry of only the Chief Election Commissioner. Factually, it should be a true national concern. And in this endeavour of free, fair and ethical elections, the best and biggest role has to be played by political parties. So far, beyond offering lip service, political parties have done precious little in this regard. If this continues, then we might see the CEC a highly disappointed and failed person without his own fault.