With BJP Appointees in Charge, Election Commission Far From Neutral

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A.G. Noorani

INDIA’S very largely free and fair electoral process was once the envy of the democratic world. This was due to the independence and integrity of the monitor of polls, the Election Commission of India. There have indeed been servile chief election commissioners too.

T.N. Seshan’s appointment as chief election commissioner in the early 1990s marked a watershed. He succeeded and carved his name in the annals of India’s election process. His successors followed suit.

The BJP regime headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi sought one-party rule. The three-member Election Commission of India was packed with favourites. The 2019 general election to the Lok Sabha was scarred by legitimate criticisms of the commission’s partiality and supineness.

For this, the much-venerated founding fathers of the constitution are entirely to blame. Article 324 of the Indian constitution and the wide powers conferred on the commission reads thus: “(1) The superintendence, direction and control of the preparation of the electoral rolls for, and the conduct of, all elections to parliament and to the legislature of every state and of elections to the offices of president and vice-president held under this constitution … shall be vested in a commission (referred to in this constitution as the election commission).

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