EC not a divided house, says VS Sampath

  • Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: May 15, 2014 23:04 IST

Chief Election Commissioner VS Sampath on Friday sought more powers for the Election Commission to curb the menace of money and liquor in polls.

He asserted the poll panel was not a divided body and said he did not complain to the President against election commissioner HS Brahma.

"I have known Mr Brahma for three decades. We have worked in the same cadre and we have a cordial relation. I want to assure all decisions in the EC were taken with unanimity," Sampath told HT in an interview.

The former IAS officer agreed with Brahma that the political discourse in elections was not of the standard expected from top leaders, adding that the EC had acted with requisite "firmness".

The CEC said there was no delay in taking action against hate-speech makers such as Azam Khan and Amit Shah, as it was based on evidence and after proper verification. "We did not act in haste as we had to be fair," he said. Action on violation of the model code of conduct, he added, is initiated only if the leaders are prima facie found to be guilty.

But he accepted that the model code needed to be reviewed and that the EC will look into the matter after the election process ends. "Action under the model code is not a substitute for legal action under The Representation of the People's Act. Any change in the law is a legislative exercise. We have been asking the government for electoral reforms and hope the next government will pursue it," he said.

He sought powers specifically to curb the use liquor and money as lure in polls.

On the perceived blot on the EC's image that it did not act effectively against rigging in this election, Sampath said: "Every complaint of malpractice is looked and the returning officer scrutinises with agents of the candidates. We take all relevant into consideration and decide."

The CEC felt that the poll period should ideally have been reduced, but Mandate 2014 had to be held in phased manner for 'optimal' use of limited resources.

"Deployment of paramilitary forces and micro-observers are important for holding fair and violence-free polls. This time, the entire poll process will be completed in 72 days as compared to 75 days in 2009," he said.

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