The CEC. And what you don’t see.

The Chief Election Commissioner of India has declared the dates for the assembly elections at the time and pace of the Congress’s choice. As evidence mounts that there is unusual synchronicity in the EC’s decisions and the CEC is looking like an extension of the CWC [Congress Working Committee] read how the Congress has co-opted the last bastion of Indian democracy to its own designs.

The Chief Election Commissioner of India has announced the dates for assembly elections in five states of India. This follows views to the contrary from the leaderships in many states, notably Uttar Pradesh where the CM was inclined to hold the elections after March, when the annual examinations for students would be over and the education department personnel would be free to be engaged in this activity.

On the other hand, speculation had been rife that the Congress led UPA wanted the elections as soon as possible based on their estimations that somehow the anti-incumbency against the Mayawati government would be better exploited now than later, that the anti-graft campaign by team Anna and the general mood of the state could be turned against her even as it was turning against the UPA at the centre.

While this remained in balance, the exertions of the UPA Government to somehow rush in the Food Security Bill before the Lokpal Bill could be tabled went not unnoticed, albeit unheard in the din. But the plot thickened when the Lokpal Bill seemed to satisfy nobody and had created more controversies than it had settled.

What followed thereafter, from RJD leader Lalu Yadav’s heart rending rendition of the minority issue to the grating howls from fattened allies is now documented well enough to register as fait accompli – a choreographed gambit, using jokers in the pack to send the bill to its early demise or push it towards a lengthy incarceration in dusty files through legal challenges. Notwithstanding the three extended days supplied as sop to opposition, the friends of the Congress in the parliament had served the purpose in escalating the minority issue on the last official day of Parliament.

On Dec 23, 2011, this is what the The Free Press Journal reported:

The Congress has played its trump card in the upcoming Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections. The Union Cabinet on Thursday night approved a 4.5 per cent sub quota for the Muslims within the larger 27 per cent quota earmarked for Other Backward Classes. The reservation in central government jobs and education, which comes into effect from January 1, will benefit a vast majority of Muslims. UP has 18 per cent Muslim population as per 2001 census. Their number swells to around 24 per cent when one includes the Muslim Jats in western UP, close to Delhi. They can swing the poll fortunes as they mostly vote en masse.

The government was just waiting for Parliament session to end on Thursday so that it could rush the decision, lest the Election Commission stops it in its tracks by announcing the UP poll schedule and brings the code of conduct in force.

This is the second major decision taken by the UPA government to woo UP Muslims. It had on November 19 announced Rs 3,000- crore bonanza for handloom weavers in the form of loan waivers. Most of the handloom weavers are Muslims.

One would have admired the Congress’ gumption to pull this fast one on a nation agog with expectations of a silver bullet, or bemoaned the guilelessness of the opposition for falling for it in the first place depending on which side of the divide you are, but the real cut was not delivered until a day after when the penny finally dropped. Exactly 24 hours later, the dates for the elections were out.

As if on cue, the election commission had stepped in and the dates for UP elections advanced to February – just as the Doctor ordered. In their haste to comply with their brief, the EC gave Uttarakhand the raw end of the same deal. [Now the CM and the leader of opposition in the state are suggesting that parts of the state would be snowed in end-January.]

On 24th December, 2011, India Today reported the following:

The EC on Saturday [24th December 2011] announced the dates for assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa. The schedule suits the Congress and upsets the BSP’s plans. At the core of the tussle for schedule lie ten Rajya Sabha seats. The BSP wanted the elections to be held in April so that by virtue of its majority, it could get maximum members elected to the Upper House in the biennial poll which are due in March.

The Congress wanted an early election because hopes to form a government in UP in alliance with Mulayam Singh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party. If everything works according to the Congress’s plans, the party may be able to increase its strength in the Rajya Sabha where it is in minority. It is also an opportune time to harvest the recent decision to introduce a sub-quota for Muslims in jobs and central educational institutions. The Chief Election Commissioner SY Quraishi, who announced the schedule at a press conference here, said “all aspects” have been taken into consideration while charting the time table.

But no one said a word. The political parties all peppered the day’s press conferences with their readiness for the great game of elections. Nobody pointed out that the EC was curving its trajectory to suit the senators in command. Perhaps, because it was deemed de riguer. Or perhaps, because it is the holy cow of Indian democracy.

When the EC becomes party to a Government’s election strategy, it not only loses credibility but it also demeans democracy. The choreography has been apparent not only in Parliament – with a well timed response from UPA allies who threw up the unconstitutional demand for a minority representation within the Lokpal – but now it seems that the EC held on to the declaration just so that the UPA could make its move in Parliament with the two bills it thinks will allow it to secure minority interests in UP – the Food Security Bill, and now the Lokpal Bill with the minority caveat.

On 24th December, the Chief Election Commissioner comes into his own:

Model code of conduct is applicable in all poll bound states from today. “There shall be no appeal to caste or communal feelings for securing votes. Mosques, churches, temples or other places of worship shall not be used as forum for election propaganda,” said SY Quraishi, chief election commissioner.

In a sudden and splendid contiguity of views, timing and dovetailing interests, the CEC has become the alter ego of the party in power delivering for them the exact prescription, the precise dosage of electoral lift they wanted from him. So now that the “appeal to caste or communal feelings for securing votes” has been made by the Congress, no one else may do so!

If only it were that he stood aside having done so. But no, he wasn’t done yet. On 25th December, as matters reached a boil and Team Anna stated preparations for the fast in Mumbai and the Jail Bharo and threatened to campaign against the Congress in states, the CEC released a veiled threat to Team Anna.

This is what the IANS reported on Sunday 25th December.

Team Anna’s conduct will be monitored: Quraishi (14:04)

New Delhi, Dec 25 (IANS) Team Anna’s conduct will be monitored during the assembly elections in five states, Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi said Sunday, adding that its campaign against a “particular party” could become an issue of propriety.

Well done Mr. Quraishi! Now, let’s see if we have any plans for you after you demit office.

It is not new to note that the country’s institutions are being unabashedly denuded of their constitutional values under the UPA regime. But it is a new low for the vaunted democratic traditions of India that the Congress party has infiltrated the Election Commission of India. Navin Chawla was the first ungainly incumbent. But S.Y. Quraishi takes the cake.

The example of former CEC M.S. Gill who is part of the present cabinet after demitting office and the reasoned argument that it should be necessary for persons in such posts to give an undertaking to not take up any offer from Government is back at centre stage. And any attempt at eluding this issue now would raise another – Is it time to bring the CEC under the Lokpal? After all, if we can’t trust the PM, why should we trust the CEC – constitutionality be damned.

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Picture Credit: livemint.in

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Comments
6 Responses to “The CEC. And what you don’t see.”
  1. Mohanakrishnan says:

    I guess BJP concedes defeat and is resigned to have the fourth position – notwithstanding the posturing in media debates & twitter. ‘If you know you cannot win, blame the Govt of the day of rigging everything, right from dates. Then colour the Election Commission. If possible attribute motives to CEC. How is that when NDA / Nitish or BJP win, the elections are deemed fair and not when they lose? So typical right wing irrational thinking.

    A former CAG was made MP by BJP and I am sure they are now trying to rope in the current CAG as well. Talk about reasoned debate!

  2. Shalu says:

    There will come a time when the people of India will be able to see through the Congress party and banish the party and its leaders into oblivion.

  3. Manvendra Singh (Aligarh) UP says:

    You have put the things with right perspective. At times I get frustrated with the thought that in which direction our country and democracy is progressing. As a common man maximum I could do is vote one time in 5 years. But this appeasement politics and mass vote banks would not let us change this present system. Any idea how people like me can contribute in building the nation?

  4. KA says:

    Sanjay, Good article. CEC is definitely playing the CWC’s tune – no, actually CWC is playing the tune, the CEC is shamelessly dancing to it.

  5. Sanjay says:

    @sanjayleo

    Sir I fully agree with you that CEC is working on behalf of congress bosses, but then Why BJP is not raising the issue in media, or with CEC. On the contrary, BJP spokesperson (Mr. Ravi Prasad) was seen welcoming the dates on tv.

  6. CEC appears biased and prejudiced on Anna by his public statement.He s one constitutional body and he should-not any nonsense.But he seems to be awed by congress pressures to say what he had sad in TV.If he would start accounting all individuals in election expenses then he would be booked in several cases .He cant take any legal action but he has said that it would be improper.But who is he to say what is proper and improper.Is he a stooge of congress or CEC.

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