Litmus test for democracy

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 8/28/2020 12:14:37 PM IST

 Five states are scheduled to go for assembly elections and amidst the current pandemic and in light of the recent objections by several states against holding of JEE and NEET examinations in September, the question on whether or not to hold elections since the situation is not fully normal but nevertheless this will have to be weighed by the Election Commission of India. The term of the Bihar legislative Assembly comes to an end on November 29 and the polls are likely to he held sometime in October-November. While the BJP is prepared for the polls as it enjoys a huge advantage in terms of resource, manpower and most important, undeniable dominance over all the public institutions; the opposition is still in disarray, divided and lack all the needed resources to fight an awesome opponent. This unpreparedness was aired by former Union minister and United Democratic Alliance (UDA) convenor Yashwant Sinha, who echoed the voices of a number of political leaders seeking postponement of the Bihar assembly polls in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Other states which are scheduled to go to the polls next year include- Tamil Nadu by May 24,2021; West Bengal by May 30,2021, Assam by May 31,2021 and Puducherry by June 8,2021 It may be recalled that earlier, the ECI panel decided to defer eight bypolls - seven assembly and one Lok Sabha seat - citing floods and the COVID-19 pandemic. The six-month deadline to hold these eight bypolls was ending on September 7. The remaining 49 bypolls are due after September.Which way the ECI will take will also depend largely on how the centre ultimately ‘convinces’ the poll body. While the BJP is ruling in Assam and shares power with the JDU in Bihar; the AIADMK, a BJP ally, is ruling in Tamil Nadu; the Trinamool Congress, a staunch anti-BJP party is ruling in West Bengal while the Congress along with DMK share power in the Union Territory of Puducherry. The assembly elections in these states is more crucial for the opposition since it would be a massive boost if they manage to retain their states and wrest at least Bihar from the BJP. In Assam, the BJP is on a strong wicket and has managed to engineer large-scale desertions from the Congress mainly owing to the influence of former Congress stalwart and present finance minister of BJP, Dr.Himanta Biswa Sarma. The only factor that could upset the BJP in Assam is, if the ‘grand alliance’ of Congress and AIUDF and possibly some recently formed regional parties, manage to prevent splitting of anti-BJP votes. In consideration of COVID-19 pandemic, the ECI is open to the concept of a combination of virtual and physical campaigning and this could also be implemented in other elections if they are held amid the pandemic. Virtual campaigning would require efficient connectivity as well as at least 80% of people having mobile phones. However, according to TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India), only a little over half the population has a mobile phone and only 34 percent has a smartphone. The polls, are going to be a test for opposition parties, if they can do well and for the ECI to regain confidence of the voters by ensuring a truly free and fair poll. 


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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