Concerned Over EC's Public Image, Former Chiefs Ask Poll Panel to Fix It

Former chief election commissioners also brought up concerns over paid news and the feasibility of simultaneous elections.

New Delhi: Concerned over the Election Commission’s diminished public image these days, former chief elections commissioners have asked the commission look into what is going on and take measures to fix the problem.

According to the Indian Express, the issue was brought up in a meeting of former poll panel heads with incumbent commissioners O.P. Rawat, Sunil Arora and Ashok Lavasa on Monday. Former chief election commissioners M.S. Gill, J.M. Lyngdoh, T.S. Krishnamurthy, B.B. Tandon, S.Y. Quraishi, V.S. Sampath, H.S. Brahma and Nasim Zaidi, and former Election Commissioner GVG Krishnamurthy were present at the meeting.

The EC under the leadership of A.K. Joti has been questioned for the way the Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat election dates were announced. Though the elections were supposed to take place in the same period, announcement of the Gujarat poll dates was delayed – to postpone introduction of the model code of conduct. Questions were also raised about the poll panel’s handling of the case involving 20 Aam Aadmi Party MLAs who were accused of holding offices of profit. The EC sent its recommendations to the president without hearing the merits of the complaint. The Delhi high court later quashed the EC’s decision, saying it had failed to “comply with the principles of natural justice”.

“The questions raised about the Commission’s image were discussed. Irrespective of whether these questions are legitimate or not, the former chief election commissioners felt that the Commission should try to get to the root of why this is happening and address it,” Quraishi told the newspaper.

“The former CECs also felt that the Commission should come down hard on politicians indulging in hate speech and violations of the Model Code of Conduct. Sometimes when the election period is long, then the hate also lingers longer. There was unanimity on the suggestion to find ways for reducing the number of polling phases in an election,” Quraishi added.

Another former CEC told Indian Express that the feasibility of simultaneous elections was also discussed. “Going by the legal and Constitutional hurdles in the way, the general feeling was that maybe this (holding simultaneous polls) wasn’t possible,” he said.

Recently, the Narendra Modi government has been pushing the idea of simultaneous elections.