Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi on Tuesday denied Punjab Chief Minister and Shiromoni Akali Dal (SAD) president Prakash Singh Badal’s charges on the Election Commission officials of interference in the State government administration.
“This could dent their (EC officials’) morale and bring them under undue pressure with respect to ensuring free and fair polls,” which was the bedrock of governance, development and betterment of people.
The Assembly poll in Punjab is scheduled for January 30, 2012.
In a letter to Mr. Badal, the CEC expressed his concern on the former’s move to make allegations against the officials and questioning their conduct without any basis. “Let me assure you that EC operates within diligent awareness of its Constitutional mandate and recognises with the greatest respect the operational boundaries between various Constitutional bodies. If there have been any deviations in our work, we would be grateful if you bring specific cases to our notice.”
Maintenance of law and order during election was a basic pre-condition for free and fair polls and as such Commission could only have a vested interest in ensuring the same rather than ignoring it, Mr. Quraishi said in the letter. “Need to assure you that the same is being done in right earnest.”
He said the EC gave due regard for citizens’ convenience and that was why it kept its own instructions under dynamic review. Upward revision of cash carrying limit from Rs. 1 lakh to Rs. 2.5 lakh was one such instance. It would be unwise to see this as a weakness, as this indeed was the action of a responsive EC.
Asking Mr. Badal to review his opinion on the functioning of the EC, Mr. Quraishi said: “You would agree that we must not do anything at this juncture that can undermine election management, the ongoing election process and the overall electoral democracy in Punjab and the whole country.”