Image Source: eci.gov.in
The elections have always remained the key issue for all the political parties and to win the elections political parties do everything what they can? Here, sometimes they even go beyond the law and violate it. Around elections, party flags, banners, their workers and more that these political parties’ promises cannot be missed by even common people who often remain aloof from the welfare schemes. This is a sarcasm of elections that party becomes more active during the election than during their period of governance. It remembers of an average student or below average student who becomes active before one month of exam and does every possible thing to get passed.
Regulations are needed for maintaining the decorum of the election and to conduct this test of political parties fairly. They are needed for curbing the muscle and money power of the stronger parties who may use them to overtake smaller parties. The first such regulations were developed in 1960 in Kerala and later on steps taken by Lok Sabha to develop such codes in 1962. It kept on evolving and got strictly enforced in 1991. T.N. Seshan, 10th Chief Election Commission of India (hereinafter, ECI), the name is known for the reforms in this area. Model Code of Conduct (hereinafter, MCC) is not legally enforceable and it has its own reasons. Involvement of judiciary in elections may delay elections, election commission needed to be strong to implement the Code.
VIOLATIONS OF THE CODE
Violations of the code forced ECI to implement it strictly in 1991. Parties often violate the code to get a stronger hold on elections. The ruling party use government machinery, buying of voters and hate speeches are some of the violations of the Code. The ECI included election manifestos in the Code in 2013 and social media posts regulating in 2019.
BREACH IN 2019
In 2019, there were 17th Lok Sabha elections and some party to keep their hold strong and where some party wanted a comeback. Basically, MCC have eight different provisions and they deal with regulations for general conduct, meetings, polling booths, processions, etc. The MCC was enforced on 10th March 2020 and lasted till 23rd May 2020. During this period of MCC, the election commission received hundreds of MCC violations complaints. One of them was against ECI itself. It was alleged that the ECI was not taking steps against MCC violation by the PM who used the army in his advertisement. There were lots of violations but still, some were more covered and highlighted in the news. “Main Bhi Chowkidar” teacups by Railways and Airways, “Ali and Bajarangbali” comments of Mayawati and Yogi Adityanath, Biopic of Modi, NaMo Tv, “Hindu Terror”, “Modiji ki Sena” for Indian Armed Forces by Adityanath and warning of Maneka Gandhi to Muslims remained some controversial violations of the MCC. Violations by the opposition like derogatory comments on EVMs, use of government resources, derogatory remarks on a particular political leader, blasphemous comments were also reported.
The most violated codes related to the caste and religions hate speeches, use of government resources, polling booths and election manifestos. Comments of Mayawati, Maneka Gandhi, Yogi Adityanath raised religious hatred, use of government resources like advertisement during elections and promises in election manifestos which create an undue influence on the voters.
In the last Delhi state legislative assembly elections, the AAP emerged on the top of a list of the MCC violations.
CURRENT ONGOING ELECTIONS
Elections are going in 4 states, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Assam, and Puducherry. The MCC has been enforced from the date elections date were announced and as a usual violation of these codes are being reported. The West Bengal elections are considered as most important for BJP and TMC, the ruling party, are face to face. Over 1000 complaints have been filed against the use of PM Modi photo on several centre schemes, COVID-19 vaccination certificates. The EC officials ordered the removal of such banners within 72 hrs. The EC seized 25 lakh rupees and 28,131 litres of alcohol.
The matter went to court in Kerala over the stay order by the EC on the special rice distribution scheme. The Kerala High Court halted the stay order of the EC. The State Congress alleged the violations by CM Vijayan when he announced the policy and schemes after the date of elections. Policies should be announced by the chief secretary of the state during the MCC.
By March 16, over 600 MCC violations had been filed in Assam. The most serious violation was reported when EVM was found in the car of BJP MLA. Repoll have been ordered by the EC. The SDPC in Kerala filed a violation by PM during his rally where he incited religious sentiment, alleged, of the people.
CONTINUING BREACH OF CODE
The parties are still violating the MCC after 30 years have been passed of strictly enacting the MCC. It seems that parties do not care for the punishments or prohibitions, the only thing they care for the victory. I opine if parties are not violating the code of elections then it is not because of the EC but it is because of the votes. They may lose voters for such violations for which they can cross any limit and whatever may be the consequences. People also do not care for small violations like announcements of schemes and policies. Now people started to think about the use of the taxpayer’s money in elections and communalism. The only thing which can stop these violations are severe punishments, a strong mechanism to catch violations as many violations go unreported and the last which is more important is the awareness in the public.
Communal politics has not stooped even after the independence and partition of India in 1947. Elections have become the power show event of the political parties to lure voters. The ECI which is an independent body has been seen many times under the influence of the ruling party. The expenses on the election have increased more than six times from 1998 to 2019. In 2019, $8 billion were spent on elections. International agencies also have degraded the level of democracy in India. V-Dem even went to the extent of naming India as “election autocracy”. The elections should be conducted free and fairly. There is a need to give more teeth to the ECI to ensure free and fair elections. Awareness among people is also needed. Till the time lion cub will not or will not be getting realized about its real power, it will be exploited by such cunning peoples.