The editorial “The Election Commission at 60” (Jan. 29), besides giving a balanced assessment of the Commission’s performance, points to the areas that need to be improved. Despite all the pressures our system is subjected to, if, at 60, our institutions score 60 out of 100, the credit goes to the people, the media and the basic fabric of our Constitution. Securing the position of all Election Commissioners by equalising the removal process for the CEC and the ECs is imperative. More important is the need to support them in handling situations arising out of the criminalisation of politics and money power which are, unfortunately, woven into our body politic.
The ECI has been doing a splendid job, especially in enforcing the Model Code of Conduct. But the commission is dependent on the legislature to bring about changes such as barring candidates contesting from two constituencies, fixing the maximum age limit for contesting elections, etc. The tendency among some representatives to resign their seats and get re-elected also needs to be nipped in the bud. The revision of electoral rolls and issue of identity cards are not foolproof even today. The ECI should address all these issues.
Given the massive powers vested with the government over land allocation, mining rights and so on, it is hardly surprising that criminals prefer to enter politics personally rather than act as henchmen of political leaders. The result: one in five MPs has a criminal record — some even face charges of heinous crimes. Should not the leaders think twice before giving the party ticket to a candidate? The evolution of an institution like the Election Commission should be an ongoing dynamic process, consistently supported by politicians for the betterment of the electoral system and democracy.
V. Priya Kannan,
No doubt the Election Commission has rendered 60 years of commendable service to the nation. But its job should not be confined to conducting elections. It also has the responsibility of keeping criminals and money power away from politics. Mere existence is no achievement.
The description of T.N. Seshan as “overreaching” in the editorial is unacceptable. It was he who brought about the much-needed discipline into the disorderly election campaigns by strictly enforcing the Model Code of Conduct, seemingly with a heavy hand. He was a martinet no doubt but a “no nonsense” Commissioner was then the need of the hour.