‘By adopting a passive role, EC has diminished its status as an independent authority’: Dr. E.A.S. Sarma to EC over Inaction on Modi-Shah MCC Violations

Former secretary to the Government of India, Dr. E.A.S. Sarma, has once again written to the Election Commission (EC) expressing his sharp disapproval of the lenient approach adopted by the election body towards the gross violations of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah.

Modi Shah

In his letter dated May 3, 2019, Sarma has said, “I have brought to your notice several instances of violation of Model Code of Conduct (MCC) by Shri Narendra Modi, including statements that tend to divide the society, statements that drag the defence forces into electioneering, misuse of Prime Minister’s Office and Niti Ayog for BJP’s party work in electioneering etc. I feel disappointed at the Commission’s inexplicable silence which has already eroded its credibility and effectiveness as a Constitutional authority that ought to have acted without bias.”

Referring to Modi’s move of reviewing the 59-minutes loan scheme this week, in spite of MCC being in force, Sarma said that the state election authorities were stopping the state governments from doing the same as it will violate the MCC.

Expressing his deep concerns for the EC’s dubious stand, Sarma writes, “It is unfortunate that Shri Narendra Modi and Shri Amit Shah should take full advantage of the Commission’s apparent leniency towards them and brazenly flout the MCC, whereas the Commission seems to be treating the State Chief Ministers, especially those in opposition, on a different footing. Such an apparent bias has eroded the legitimacy of the way the Commission has so far functioned and its credibility in the perception of the public.”
Condemning the laidback response of the EC, Sarma further writes, “The Commission, by adopting a passive role, has perhaps diminished its status as an independent authority. You must know that every act of commission and omission on your part is being subject to public scrutiny, which will determine whether the Commission, during the ongoing elections, has lived upto the level to which it was raised by Shri Seshan and Shri Lyngdoh.”

Sarma had earlier written to the EC four times, requesting the poll authority to take cognisance of the wrongdoings by Modi and Shah and take the necessary action. The letters were written on April 15, April 18, April 21 and April 23 , but to no avail!

The letters bring the following things to the notice of the EC- the termite comment by Amit Shah on illegal immigrants, use of the Intelligence Bureau by the PM for getting local information on the Union Territories before his election campaigns and suspension of the IAS officer, Mohammed Mohsin, for checking PM’s chopper, among other things.

Addressing the letter to the Chief Election Commissioner, Sunil Arora, and Election Commissioners Ashok Lavasa and Sushil Chandra, Sarma has urged them to take a deterrent action against the Modi-Shah duo, “in the interest of upholding the integrity of the electoral process.”

The EC had earlier drawn ire from the Supreme Court (SC) for its lenient approach towards the ruling party members this election season. Sushmita Dev, president of All India Mahila Congress, had approached the SC for the same reasons. Even the senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram accused the EC of failing to perform its duty and having a biased approach by brazenly ignoring the violations by the BJP. “According to me, the Election Commission has largely failed the people of India. It has been a silent spectator to the excesses of the BJP, Mr Modi’s utterances and the enormous amount of money that has been spent by the BJP,” Chidambaram said.

The Modi regime has been accused of destabilizing the democratic institutions and acting as an autocratic government in the past five years. Now with the EC also submitting to the pressure and dominance from the ruling party, its credibility is being seriously weighed. Inaction on the part of this constitutional body is making it appear as a ‘toothless watchdog.’

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