NEW DELHI – Ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, as many as 66 former bureaucrats have written to President Ram Nath Kovind expressing concerns over the functioning of the Election Commission of India (ECI), which they said was “suffering from a crisis of credibility and endangering the integrity of the electoral process”.
“The weak-kneed conduct of the ECI has reduced the credibility of this constitutional body to an all-time low,” former bureaucrats said in their letter to the President.
“Any erosion in the people’s confidence in the fairness of the ECI has very grave consequences for the future of our democracy and we hope that the gravity of the situation will be appreciated by the ECI,” the former bureaucrats wrote.
In the letter of former bureaucrats titled ‘weak-kneed response of the Election Commission of India to violations of the Model Code of Conduct’ the former bureaucrats wrote, “The ECI’s independence, fairness, impartiality and efficiency are perceived to be compromised today, thereby endangering the integrity of the electoral process which is the very foundation of Indian democracy. We are distressed to note the misuse, abuse and blatant disregard of the Model Code of Conduct by the ruling party at the Centre.”
The letter, a copy of which was marked to Chief Election Commissioner, lists “glaring instances” wherein the EC is believed to have acted in a partisan manner.
This list includes Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s public announcement on March 27 about the successful launch of India’s first anti-satellite weapon (ASAT).
“Parading the achievements of a government in this manner after the announcement of elections is tantamount to a serious breach of propriety and amounts to giving unfair publicity to the party presently in government and that the ECI’s decision does not stand up to the standards of impartiality expected of it,” the letter noted.
The Election Commission had earlier rejected claims that the PM’s announcement was a violation of the MCC.
In the 5-page letter, former bureaucrats also raise the issue of PM Narendra Modi biopic. They asked why the EC has not objected to the release of the biopic, slated to hit screens on April 11, the date of polling for the first phase of the Lok Sabha polls.
“This represents a backdoor effort to garner free publicity for a political person (and his party). In the event that this biopic is released even while the election process is ongoing, we contend that the entire expenses on the production, distribution and publicity of the biopic should be debited to the election expenses of Shri Narendra Modi,” the former bureaucrats wrote.
The letter, addressed to President Ram Nath Kovind also raised concern over the 10-part web series ‘Modi: A common man’s journey’ and the launch of NaMo TV.
Taking strong note of political speeches, the former bureaucrats said Yogi Adityanath’s ‘Modi ki sena’ remark was irresponsible. “Strongest action is required from the ECI to nip such cavalier statements in the bud,” they said.
The April-8 letter, appealed to the Election Commission, through the President, “to conduct itself in a manner where its independence, fairness, impartiality and efficiency are not questioned.”