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Panelists say that EC should be given more powers to ensure fair polling

Ahead of the general elections that start on Thursday, the Election Commission of India (ECI) said that it is swamped with many complaints of alleged violation of poll rules. In another development, a group of bureaucrats, in a letter to the President, have bemoaned the “weak-kneed” responses of the Election Commission (EC) in the run up to the elections. APN’s popular debate Mudda discussed the issue. Anchorperson Akshay posed the questions to panellists, including the Congress’s Suryakant Dhasmana, NCP’s Mahesh Chavahan, BJP’s Rakesh Tripathi, SP’s Vivek Silas, former bureaucrat Baba Hardev Singh and APN consultant Govind Pant Raju.

Tripathi said: “If there are allegations against EC, the EC should answer. There is nothing wrong in the PM’s biopic. Mayawati appealed openly that Muslims should vote for her, isn’t that a mockery of the system?”

Akshay pointed out that the allegations are as much against the BJP. To this, Tripathi said: “Look at Mayawai appealing to Muslims, is nothing wrong with that? She is not a minor leader, she should be careful about the way she appeals for votes.”

Dhasmana said: “Constitutional bodies have been misused by the government, like the CBI, IT, and now the EC. People trust the EC. It is guarding our democracy. Any attempt to take this right away from the people will not be tolerated. How can the BJP defend the release of the PM’s biopic in poll time?”

Akshay said SC has found nothing wrong regarding the release of the biopic. To this, Dhasmana said: “SC is different and EC is different. Indian army is not Modi Army. Modi says he’s the people’s chowkidar and the chowkidar is fighting the enemy. It is our valiant soldiers who are fighting the enemy, whys should the PM take credit for that.”

Silas said: “People have started saying ‘Modiji ki sena’. What is this? Be it any party or leader, EC should make no compromises on being fair to all.”

Baba Hardev Singh said: “Elections are going on. EC is responsible in ensuring that the polls are held in a fair manner. Political alliances and bureaucrats too are divided into factions. TN Seshan proved how polls can be held fearlessly and fairly. Black money has to be curtailed too.”

Raju said: “It is not that questions have not been raised regarding EC earlier. EC is empowered by Art 324 to ensure fair polls. In Pilibhit, Varun Gandhi had made statements that he should not have said and it had become a bog issue, though he later got a clean chit. Political parties know how far they can go. Bureaucracy too sees its own self interest. The real mudda is that legal rights are needed. Azam Khan called UP CM neech, and many such statements are made… but EC needs to be empowered with legal rights to enforce laws.”

Chavahan said: “Complaints have gone to the President. If EC does not have the power, then a decision should be taken, once a new government is formed, but what can be done till that time? PM has been taking credit, there’s a biopic on him, also a web series, and then the Main Chowkidar program on TV, YouTube and Twitter, isn’t all this a violation of the rules? If EC does not have the powers, that’s a big issue.”

Tripathi said: “There have been campaigns from time to time that this nation is becoming intolerant, awards are being returned to highlight such issues, but such issues have died a natural death. Why pick and choose? You are questioning PM’s biopic but not Mayawati’s comments!”

Dhasmana said: “Whoever talks against PM Modi is declared anti-national. How can we allow this? When the Janata Dal (JD) was in the making, the then EC had ordered the halting of the Wheel advertisement as that was the poll symbol of the JD. EC should be seen taking tough measures to curb violations.”

Silas said: “It is important for the health of the democracy to give more powers to the EC.”

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