Advertisement
Tuesday, Nov 30, 2021
Outlook.com
Poll Toll/Institutions

Omission And Commission

The central poll panel’s legacy as a guarantor of democratic tenets in the conduct of elections is taking hit after damaging hit

Omission And Commission
Men In The Muddle | Photographs by PTI
Omission And Commission
outlookindia.com
2021-04-30T17:33:01+05:30

Conspiracy theories about hacked EVMs are old hat. From baffling poll schedules and inequitable application of the model code of conduct to brazenly partisan policy prescriptions, the litany of accusations hurled by various­ ­stakeholders—barring the BJP and its allies—at the Election Commission (EC) gets more expansive with every election. The ongoing assembly polls have been no different, and this time the blame has been pinned on Sunil Arora, who was chief election ­commissioner (CEC) until April 12 and oversaw elections in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam and Pondicherry as well as four of the eight phases of polling in West Bengal. Arora’s successor, Sushil Chandra, under whose watch poll results will be announced on May 2 and crucial elections held in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur next year, is certain to face similar accusations.

Arora’s tenure would likely serve as a ready reckoner for Chandra when he steers the EC over the next 13 months. The EC has a robust institutional memory shaped as much by the likes of Sukumar Sen (India’s first CEC), T.N. Seshan and J.M. Lyngdoh, as it is by its more recent chiefs such as Navin Chawla, A.K. Joti and O.P. Rawat. The legacy Arora leaves behind is similarly part of the institutional memory of the body mandated with ensuring free and fair elections. Opposition politicians and commentators have been unanimous that he followed contentious precedents set by his immediate predecessors—Rawat and Joti, both routinely accused of subservience to the executive—while conspicuously ignoring precedents set by Seshan, Lyngdoh or S.Y. Quraishi. In the process, Arora established some precedents of his own, and the brickbats against these have been swift and scathing.

Advertisement

Outlook Newsletters

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Read More from Outlook

How Parag Agrawal Obsessively Focused On Controlling Hate Speech As Twitter CTO

How Parag Agrawal Obsessively Focused On Controlling Hate Speech As Twitter CTO

After taking over as CTO of Twitter, Parag Agrawal’s main focus was on using AI and ML to identify hate speech and bots that were used to spread misinformation through the microblogging site.

'Omicron Virus' Or 'South Africa Variant'? Here's What Not To Call New Covid-19 Strain

'Omicron Virus' Or 'South Africa Variant'? Here's What Not To Call New Covid-19 Strain

The Omicron variant of Covid-19 has led to several discussions on WHO's method of naming virus variants on Greek alphabets. But terms like 'South Africa virus' have remained in use.

IPL Retention, Live Updates: Rashid, Hardik Not Retained

IPL Retention, Live Updates: Rashid, Hardik Not Retained

Will the IPL team owners value loyalty, performance, or a combination of both while retaining players? As the drama unfolds, follow live updates here.

Opposition Unity: Act Fast Or Perish, TMC Makes Its Message Ring Louder

Opposition Unity: Act Fast Or Perish, TMC Makes Its Message Ring Louder

TMC Supremo Mamata Banerjee is set to meet the leadership of the Shiv Sena and NCP in the backdrop of her deliberate decision not to meet Sonia Gandhi.

Advertisement