Democracy thrives when elections are free and fair: Poll panel chief | india-news | Hindustan Times
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Democracy thrives when elections are free and fair: Poll panel chief

Election commissioner OP Rawat has pitched for action against practices that are in contravention to free and fair elections that perpetuate people’s faith in democracy. 

india Updated: Aug 18, 2017 23:31 IST
HT Correspondent
Election commissioner OP Rawat has pitched for action against practices that are in contravention to free and fair elections that perpetuate people’s faith in democracy. 
Election commissioner OP Rawat has pitched for action against practices that are in contravention to free and fair elections that perpetuate people’s faith in democracy. (PTI File Photo)

Critical of the political narrative that places a premium on winning, election commissioner OP Rawat has pitched for action against practices that are in contravention to free and fair elections that perpetuate people’s faith in democracy. 

Rawat was speaking at a consultation on election reforms organised by the election watchdog, Association for Democratic Reforms on Thursday. 

“Democracy thrives when elections are free, fair and transparent. However, it appears to a cynical common man that we have been scripting a narrative that places maximum premium on winning at all costs — to the total exclusion of ethical considerations,” he said. 

He slammed the practice of using money and muscle to impact election outcomes and said poaching of legislators and use of money as allurement are being “extolled as strategic poll management” and “commended as resourcefulness”. 

“The winner can commit no sin; a defector crossing over to the ruling camp stands cleansed of all the guilt as also possible criminality etc. It is this creeping ‘new normal’ of political morality that should be the target for exemplary action by all political parties, politicians, media, civil society organisations, constitutional authorities and all those having faith in democratic polity for better election, a better tomorrow,” he said. 

The commissioner’s statement comes close on the heels of its decision to reject votes cast by two rebel Congress MLAs in the Rajya Sabha polls held in Gujarat. A political furore had erupted in Gujarat where Congress’ Ahmed Patel was fighting a pitched battle to retain his Rajya Sabha berth after six party MLAs in the state shifted allegiance to the BJP ahead of the August 8 elections. 

The Congress had to fly out 44 legislators to a luxury resort in Karnataka to prevent any further defections. 

Earlier, the poll panel received complaints from the Congress before the Manipur Assembly polls over allegations made by Irom Sharmila that she was offered a bribe of ₹36 crore by the BJP to contest on their ticket.