A few days ago, the Election Commissioner OP Rawat commented against the “creeping new normal of political morality” by saying “Democracy thrives when elections are free, fair and transparent. However, it appears to a cynical common man that we have been scripting a narrative that places maximum premium on winning at all costs — to the exclusion of ethical considerations” at the ‘Consultation on Electoral and Political Reforms’ organised by the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR), after Election Commission rejected votes cast by two dissident Congress MLAs in the crucial Gujarat Rajya Sabha Elections.
He also subsequently added that “Poaching of legislators is inscribed as smart political management; strategic introduction of cash for allurement, shrewd use of state machinery for intimidation etc. are all commended as resourcefulness in today’s political campaigning.
In in the present scenario the winner can commit no sin thus a defector crossing over to the ruling camp stands purified of all the culpable criminal charges. Hence, it is this sneaking ‘new normal’ of political morality that should be the targeted for exemplary action by all political parties, politicians, media, civil society organisations, constitutional authorities and all those having faith in democratic polity for better election, a better tomorrow.
Congress lost six MLAs in Gujarat to BJP ahead of the August 8 elections, leaving its candidate Ahmed Patel with very little latitude in the final count. The Congress then herded its remaining 44 legislators to a luxury resort in Karnataka to prevent any further defections.
In no time, the Income Tax department raided 60 premises of Karnataka Energy Minister D K Shivakumar , responsible for managing the stay of these MLAs. On enquiring about the precise timing of the raid, the Congress indicted BJP of maltreating its resources and solicited the Election Commission’s protection.
However, on the day of the election, the EC in a dramatic and unexpected move, invoked Article 324 of the Constitution to revoke the decision of its Returning Officer (RO) in the state and declare invalid the votes cast by two rebel Congress MLAs in favour of the BJP candidate.
Congress party leader Shaktisinh Gohil had alleged that Bholabhai Gohil and Raghavjibhai Patel had voted for the BJP and shown their ballots to BJP party president Amit Shah, who was also in the candidature.
Finance Minister Mr Arun Jaitley led high profile delegation made allout effort to convince the EC. The poll panel concluded that the two Congress MLAs had violated secrecy norms by disclosing their ballot.
The Election Commissioner also spoke against the malpractice of paid news and should be made an electoral offence punishable by two years of imprisonment. He also recommended for putting a cap on the election expenditure of political parties and proposed an amendment to the Representation of the People Act which permits political parties concealing details of donors contributing funds through electoral bonds.