A hard look at ECI

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 4/4/2021 1:00:25 PM IST

 An incident that took place in Assam under Ratabari(SC) constituency after the second phase of polling on April 1, caused a huge outcry when a car carrying polling personnel with an Electronic Voting Machine(EVM) was intercepted by a crowd. What provoked anger across the state and in various parts of the country, was that the car used to transport the EVM belonged to the wife of a BJP candidate from another constituency. The ECI had to take suo moto notice over the report by suspending the four polling personnel besides the officer in-charge of the Assam Armed Police escort. The incident has again raised the spectre of rigging or manipulation of EVMs despite the Election Commission’s many strong defence that the system and procedures for conduct of polls was above board. The Congress, has said that the clarification of the EC that the personnel had to hitch a ride after the first vehicle had broken down while taking the EVMs and that it was a “coincidence” that the second vehicle belonged to the wife of a BJP candidate from a nearby constituency was unacceptable. There have been numerous complaints about unfair conduct by polling personnel in several states but the ECI has not taken serious note. Merely suspending the polling officials is but a knee jerk reaction. There has to be a thorough probe into the matter through a directive from the Supreme Court to ensure that the ECI is made accountable for any lapses. The role of the ECI has come under much criticism from opposition parties in the recent past especially after the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Despite mounting criticisms, the ECI remains unfazed. It may be recalled that then Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi had alleged that an EVM had been tampered by the BJP. According to reports, during a mandatory mock poll in Jorhat on April 3, 2014, every time a button was pressed, the vote went in favour of BJP. To suggest that the onus of proving that EVMs can be rigged ought not to be with the accusers but with the ECI in order to ensure faith in the machines. What should be understood is that it is the ECI and not the EVMs that has to win the confidence of the people. Allegations that the ECI was tilting for the ruling party in power at the Centre was highlighted when one of the Election Commissioners- Ashok Lavasa, who was next in line for the post of chief election commissioner, was removed and shunted out to Asian Development Bank as vice president. Lavasa had dissented on a series of clean chits given by the Commission to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home minister Amit Shah on their speeches during the May 2019 election campaign for violation of Model Code of Conduct. Every action has a reaction the ECI isolated Lavas from further consultations. In September 2019, Lavasa’s wife was issued notices from Income Tax department inquiring about alleged discrepancies in her tax returns. The message was clear and simple- remain in EC and face tax authorities or leave. Lavasa decided to accept the assignment as the vice president of the ADB. It is unfortunate democratic process is being overshadowed due to the questionable decisions of the very body that is empowered to ensure that elections are conducted in a free and fair manner in a country which has been recently dubbed as ‘partly free’ by US-based Freedom House.


Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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