What’s the use of Model Code of Conduct if violators are not punished? In recent times, this question being raised by many as the Election Commission has failed to punish a single person who according to the poll body has violated the code. To ensure free and fair elections, EC has so far transferred hundreds of officers all over the country doubting their impartiality. But the commission has simply failed to punish the rich and powerful. Often it is being said that democracy is best as it promises equal justice to all. But if the Election Commission of the world’s largest democracy continues to hesitate in punishing the big guns, it will ruin the democratic set up of the country.
This is no exaggeration. Everyone knows what the Uttrar Pradesh Governor has said. The Governor has not only lowered the status of a constitutional post, but also at the same time misused his position by urging people to vote for a certain party. The evidence is so strong that EC had to observe that it was a violation of Model Code of Conduct. It has sent its recommendations to the President. The President in turn forwarded commission’s view to Ministry of Home Affairs for further action. One may say that EC has followed the procedures. But this argument does not hold any ground as the need of the hour is to take immediate action against the UP Governor. What will we achieve by punishing the Governor once the elections are over? Besides, like his Governor, UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has also been found guilty of violating poll code by referring India Army as ‘Modi Sena.’ Why is the commission yet to take action against UP CM?
Is it the only job of the commission to punish the government officials for simply obeying the instructions of their political bosses?
This very question arises as the same Election Commission, since the announcement of poll dates, has kept on rotating government officials on the pretext of free and fair elections. Sometimes, the poor government officials were not given enough time to relinquish their charges. They were virtually shown the door. One should not gloss over the fact that all these transfers are being made on allegations.
Rarely the Election Commission has transferred officers having enough proof of their misdoings. How such arbitrary actions boomeranged can be judged from this fact that before the last Assembly elections in West Bengal, a Superintendent of Police was transferred on charges of being close to the ruling party. As the then ruling party retained power, it brought back the officer in the same post without wasting any time. Same thing will happen with the government officials transferred this time if the same government continues in the States.
For example, the unceremoniously removed Chief Secretary of Andhra is certain to hold the same post after the election if Chandrababu Naidu can retain power.
Clearly, this is not a good sign for Indian democracy. If the commission is really interested in holding free and fair elections, it should take actions against the violators of model code at once. Otherwise, the entire electoral process will become meaningless. Questions will be raised on the neutrality of the Election Commission. The dream of making our elections free from money and muscle power will never be fulfilled. India will cease to be a Republic. So time now to act before it’s too late.