Need to check violations of moral code of conduct in polls

Looking at violations of Moral Code of conduct by leaders of the ruling party, one wonders how Election Commission can provide level playing field for elections. In the last one month every opposition party leaders have been raided by Income Tax officials or enforcement division. It looks suddenly the authorities have woken up to the fact that every opposition party is guilty of violating tax laws while the ruling party members including those who  deserted opposition parties and joined BJP are holy cows.

The Election Commission which remained silent for a long  time  has finally woken up and stopped showing  of film on Modi and an electronic channel  which was only showing BJP propaganda  material instead  of news. But a lot more needs to be done. How about statements made calling Indian army as Modi Army  and describing current poll as fight between Ali and Bajrangbali. There has been also flow of money and liquor to influence voters.

Looking at the situation one wonders how the situation would have been dealt if  the post of Chief Election Commissioner had been occupied by likes  of T.N Sheshan  or  J. M Lyngdoh. The Election Commission of India has the honour of conducting a poll with largest number of voters and has enjoyed a reputation for doing the job efficiently. As such there is need for political parties to follow the moral code of conduct in letter and spirit to ensure that poll takes place peacefully and fairly.

But in this poll there are widespread violations of the moral  code of conduct  For instance there have been  attempts to divide the voters on communal lines as well as attempts  to divide them on basis of caste  and community. There have also been plenty of personal attacks. Gone are the days when political parties treated each other with respect and dignity.

There has also been use of money to the extent never seen before. The donations through bonds have provided easy way to donate money without names being disclosed. The Election Commission has pointed out the need for transparency in donations made has been ignored. The Election Commission also wanted to be informed in advance about the raids being made by income tax officials, but it has been ignored. It looks that such requests will be dealt with only after poll is over.

It is no secret that no political party can match the ruling party in raising resources and according to reports opposition parties singly or collectively can not match  BJP. AS such it is no surprise that they want present scheme of bonds where donors remain anonymous to continue. There are obvious advantages which is taken by ruling party at Center as well as in States, but despite such shortcomings Indian poll remains by and large fair. It can be made better.

In the current poll BJP looks like emerging as single largest party and NDA as the dominating alliance, Congress Party as number two but combined with partners of  UPA and other regional  parties will be quite close to NDA in terms of number of seats  won. In many states in the South, West Bengal Orissa, Andhra, Telengana challenge will be from regional parties. As for Jammu and Kashmir question will not be about who won but how many turned up for voting   despite call by Hurriyat Conference and militants for boycott.

The reports indicate that despite heat, in the first round of poll fairly brisk polling has been reported. Among the candidates who filed their nomination was Sonia Gandhi, chairperson of United Progressive Alliance. She was accompanied by her family members. Thus ending the speculation that she would not be contesting and instead Priyanka Gandhi may file her nomination in her place.

Supreme Court ordered today that details about donors should be supplied by political parties to Election Commission.


(Brij Bhardwaj is a veteran journalist and commentator)