The Election Commission's Diamond Jubilee celebrations on Monday got off to a start with the country's top leadership expressing serious concern over malpractices ranging from money and muscle power to paid news syndrome vitiating the electoral process.
They called for corrective action by the EC and the political parties to cleanse it of the evils even as they praised the contribution in the last 60 years of the Commission which came into existence on this day on the eve of India becoming a republic in 1950.
President Pratibha Patil, who inaugurated the 60th anniversary celebrations, said the impediments, lacunae and malpractices in the electoral process would have to be removed with determination to make Indian democracy "cleaner, healthier and stronger".
The ceremony was attended by the who's who of politics including Vice President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj, NDA Convener Sharad Yadav, several Chief Ministers and leaders of national and state political parties.
The Prime Minister voiced concern that the "best and the brightest" were not attracted to politics and the educated professionals and the growing middle-class often shy away from the electoral process.