We're not weakening EC: Govt’s straight-faced lie

Discussion in 'Politics & Society' started by Ray, Feb 23, 2012.

  1. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    We're not weakening EC: Govt’s straight-faced lie

    The government’s audacity in dealing with anything constitutional has stopped surprising observers. The propensity to brazen it out seems to be getting worse, but even by its own dismal standards, the attempts it is making to make the Election Commission its doormat is abominable.

    All are aware of how the nation’s law minister, no less, openly challenged the EC while campaigning for his wife in UP. He clearly forgot that he, besides being the husband of a candidate, was also a ‘responsible’ minister. A lot has already been written about the episode and how EC should have acted. While several, including I, thought the commission''s reaction was meek, several luminaries I met pointed out that the EC did right by not postponing the elections, for it would have harmed others more than the perpetrator. While that is another debate altogether, this piece is only about the government’s attempt to show mock sympathy for the EC and helping it by making the ‘model code of conduct’ statutory.

    Only to an idiot would it seem like strengthening the poll panel. The beauty of the code has been that it is more ‘moral’ than ‘model’ and even the courts, including the Supreme Court, have ruled that it needs to be followed and that the EC’s word is to be the final word on issues concerning the code. And while there have been attempts from time to time to interpret it differently, it has by and large been followed, with all parties generally respecting this ‘lakshman rekha’, as the former Central Vigilance Commissioner N Vittal put it.

    The solution is for the parties themselves to introspect and see what is good for our democracy and stop violating or misinterpreting it for their vested interests. Making it statutory is surely not the solution. Imagine every time the code is violated and it lands up in courts where it languishes for a long time. This would mean the violator would happily enjoy everything, including a win perhaps, even as all wait for the court to deliver its verdict. The point, therefore, is how can making it statutory help anyone except those who want to weaken the body.

    There have also been arguments that the code is anti-development. This too is a specious argument. Elections are conducted towards the end of the elected term of any government. The code comes into effect only during the 2-3 month period at that time. Are we trying to say that no development work takes place for 95 per cent of the term and all of it would have happened during the last three months that the EC is trying to stop? This is absurd. For, the truth is that the code has NO impact on ongoing schemes and also on schemes that have a uniform impact on all parties. To top it all, since the EC gets inundated with requests if this or that is clear of the code or not, there apparently is even a direction from the EC to the cabinet secretary that there are set norms and as long as they are followed, it doesn’t even need to be brought to its notice. The only thing that the code bars are promises that have the potential to induce voters. Since there has to be a level playing field, how can anyone have a disagreement with that?

    But no, the government, in the garb of making the EC stronger, wants to defang the body that is credited with conducting among the best elections in the world. Although one top honcho after the other of the government denied yesterday that there was any move to weaken the body and that making the code statutory was ‘not being discussed’, it stood exposed when media got hold of the agenda for today’s (February 22, 2012) Group of Ministers meeting where one of the points for discussion says: The chairman was also of the view that ‘Code of Conduct’ was one of the biggest excuses to stall development projects, and thus agreed with the request of the law minister to flag this issue and its inclusion in the agenda papers. It was also suggested that the Legislative Department may also look into the aspects where executive instructions of the Election Commission of India were required to be given statutory shape. Accordingly, Secretary, Legislative Department has been requested to make a presentation before the GoM on the progress made in the matter

    As discussed earlier, this argument is completely bogus, and even seems motivated since it comes from the nation’s law minister, who, all know by now, has an axe to grind against the EC. But there are learned, and wise, members in the GoM. I am sure they can see through this. Also, as I said in a previous post, even the common man is now seeing through this. The common man also notices those who pretend to be the nation’s well-wishers but are actually working to undermine the very bodies that strengthen our democracy. In their own interest these ‘top honchos’ should realise their folly and back off!

    Random Access : Rajesh Kalra's blog-The Times Of India
     
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  3. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    7 things Election Commission can do to regain its ‘glory’

    Now that almost everything to do with Salman Khurshid’s open defiance to EC’s diktat has been discussed and debated. Now that EC has closed the chapter on Salman’s transgression following his apology. And now that yet another minister has defied EC’s diktat, the venerable Election Commission, must be at its wits' end. We urge it not to lose heart and offer the following suggestions:

    1. Since its letter to the President that was forwarded to the Prime Minister did not elicit a response, this time he could send a letter to Obama.

    2. Write to the PM: I am in your league, sir. No one listens to me either.

    3. Write to Anna Hazare to take up his case.

    4. Seek Delhi Police’s permission to fast at Jantar Mantar.

    5. Watch ‘Lage Raho Munnabhai’.

    6. Watch ‘saas-bahu’ serials. They often have solutions for hapless/helpless characters.

    7. Watch TV debates for ideas. I could recommend some if approached.

    http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatime...lection-commission-can-do-to-regain-its-glory
     
  4. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Vittal on "what Seshan would do"

    The nation continues to debate whether law minister Salman Khurshid exceeded all propriety by his audacious defiance of the Election Commission during his speeches while campaigning in UP elections. Whether what he said was merely from the party’s manifesto. Whether the scrap was due to the fact that chief election commissioner Qureshi and Khurshid have a personal tiff (please remember, Khurshid is head of the law ministry that administratively controls the EC. Which means that things such as international travel, although notionally cleared by the President, are actually cleared by Khurshid’s ministry), I got a response to my post titled What would Seshan do if faced with Salman? from Nagarajan Vittal.

    Vittal, easily among the most respected bureaucrats the country has seen, was instrumental in ushering in the telecom revolution during his tenure as the chairman of the Telecom Commission, and also some path-breaking changes as the chairman of the Public Enterprises Selection Board, was completely into his own as the Central Vigilance Commissioner of India, when he brought transparency to the system and started putting on the CVC’s website names of those against whom cases were on and what the status of each case was. Always known for his clarity of thought and brutally candid observations, it was refreshing, indeed an honour, to get an email response from him to the post. I spoke to him and sought his permission to share his response with the readers. Although taken by surprise with the request, he quickly said: At times like these, one needs to speak the truth. So, here is the response I received from him. Read it and see for yourself the clarity and decisiveness in thought that has not diminished one bit:



    Dear Rajesh,

    A very timely piece.

    My immediate reaction on reading this was that the Election Commission might have threatened the government that they would call for the cancellation of the UP polls following the precedent set by Seshan. Otherwise the so called guidelines become not worth even the paper on which they are written.

    Our politicians who do not obey any rules have so far been careful not to cross the lakshman rekha laid by the EC because they know that the EC can hit them politically where it hurts. Any authority becomes an object of ridicule if it does not have the power and gumption to walk its talk. If Salman Kurshid gets away with his mocking of EC guidelines, the EC at one stroke will lose all the credibility it has acquired since the time of Seshan.

    Regards,
    Vittal

    http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/randomaccess/entry/vittal-on-what-seshan-would-do
     
  5. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    What would Seshan do if faced with Salman?

    It was in 1991. PV Narasimha Rao had taken over as the Prime Minister of India and had to be elected to the Lok Sabha to continue in the post. The constituency he had chosen to get elected was Nandyal, in Andhra Pradesh’s Kurnool district. There were some reports of Rao’s supporters going overboard with his campaign that perhaps violated the ‘moral code of conduct’. This caught the eye of the Election Commission, headed then by the unparalleled TN Seshan. Suddenly there were reports that Seshan was threatening to cancel the elections. If the elections were cancelled, Rao would have had to step down from the PM’s position, for the time for him to get elected to the house was running out.

    At the height of such tension one day, I was sitting with Seshan at his home on Pandara Road. The phone rang. Seshan pressed the reply button on the speaker phone and I could hear the voice of the powerful private secretary to Rao on the other side: Sir, this is ****, PM would like to speak to you. I looked on in anticipation, and excitement, for I was aware of the stories doing the rounds. Barely did I hear the PMO’s hold-on music, I heard Seshan count. 1 – 2 – 3. Click. He disconnected the line. I was dumbstruck. That...that was the Prime Minister, I said, almost in shock. Rajesh, I am the Chief Election Commissioner of India, NOT government of India, Seshan retorted angrily to me in his booming voice. Sure enough, within a minute the phone rang again and the same push-reply-button routine followed. It was Rao himself on the line. Seshan immediately picked up the handset after this and I could hear only one side of the conversation where he told Rao about the wrong things his supporters were indulging in. I don’t know what Rao told him, but what followed since is common knowledge. Rao didn’t campaign in his constituency and even told his supporters to be very low key. He was subsequently elected from Nandyal with a victory margin of over half a million votes.

    Why am I narrating this incident? Because it shows what a powerful, independent institution can do for this nation’s democracy. Now, compare that with the meek response to the audacious defiance to the diktats of the present Election Commission by the nation’s law minister, Salman Khurshid. The minister, during his campaign in the politically sensitive and important state of Uttar Pradesh, had promised that 9 per cent of quota within the 27 per cent backward caste reservation would be for Muslims. The move drew a quick response from the EC, which censured him. But instead of being careful, he repeated his promise at another rally and even dared EC by saying: EC can hang me if it wants to, but no one can stop me from saying I will get you this quota.

    EC’s response to this, that too after the opposition parties raised a ruckus, has been to write a ‘strong’ letter to the President to reign in the law minister. I don’t know what the right move by the EC should have been, but I am more than certain that no political party would have had the guts to do so if Seshan was the CEC, or even some others after him. He would have certainly done something to send shivers down the spine of all violators, for he never just threatened, he followed threats with action, strong, exemplary action. Now, what can the President do here, or Khurshid’s party for that matter? Perhaps the Congress party will keep him out of the campaign from now on. Big deal! It will be akin to bolting the stable door after the horse has bolted, perhaps deliberately. The perpetrators of this violation – Khurshid and the others who planned with him – are perhaps laughing their heads off at this open challenge to the institution. Have you seen the reactions of Kapil Sibal and Digvijaya Singh? Instead of showing remorse, they are blaming EC itself.

    But do they even for a moment sit back and think of the damage they are causing the institution that is the backbone of our democratic process? How low can one get in this politics of vote bank? Shameful, and disgraceful.

    I have often raised the issue of how this government has repeatedly eroded credibility of theinstitutions that our nation is proud of. Remember the misuse of the Central Forensic Science Laboratory when it wanted to prove that the Shanti Bhushan tapes are not doctored? I did a post on that in May 2011. And recently, the shoddy handling of the Army chief’s age issue and also the manner in which space scientists from the venerated Indian Space Research Organisation were treated. Both these could have been handled with grace, tact, and discretely, but were instead turned into fullblown spats that damaged the reputation of our army as well as the space scientists.

    There is a limit to brazenness. Is there no way the rulers who are so hell-bent on destroying the credibility of institutions that have stood the test of time will learn their lesson? How can they be well-wishers of this nation if they happily destroy the very institutions that are critical to our nation to suit their own, selfish, vested, political interests?

    http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatime...try/what-would-seshan-do-if-faced-with-salman
     
  6. Vyom

    Vyom Seeker Elite Member

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    But all Salman Khurshid, Beni Prasad Verma and now Jaiswal are being let loose. Is the EC being coy? Or is the EC too is now playing to the tune of political might?
     
  7. sob

    sob Moderator Moderator

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    Yesterday India Express which had blown the story carried on it's first page copy of the memo which had this item on agenda.

    Express Exclusive: Secret note blows cover of govt move to shackle Election Commission

    http://www.indianexpress.com/news/curbing-of-powers-of-ec./915123/
     
  8. Mad Indian

    Mad Indian Proud Bigot Veteran Member Senior Member

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    only one thing can be said to CONgis comments....:bs::bs:
     
  9. Daredevil

    Daredevil On Vacation! Administrator

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    I think this EC is hand in glove with UPA. If it were really sincere, it would have dismissed Salman Kurshid from campaigning or cancel the elections in his wife's constituency.
     
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