Overseeing a highly-charged election while fighting off allegation of bias, the election commission (EC) seems to be facing problems in its own house too. Fissures in the EC became apparent with commissioner HS Brahma admitting Friday that it has been lax in acting on poll violations, even as the poll panel assured that all decisions were taken in “unanimity”.
“The EC shouldn’t go beyond eight to 10 hours to act on poll violation complaints,” Brahma said in an interview to Headlines Today, when asked why no action was taken against Rahul Gandhi even 48 hours after he was shown in a voting compartment in Amethi.
On the denial of permission for a Narendra Modi rally, he upheld Varanasi district magistrate Pranjal Yadav’s decision but said he could’ve been “more professional” and communicated with the BJP in a better way. Brahma’s remarks came a day after chief election commissioner VS Sampath said Yadav had acted on “professional advice”.
Asked for a response to Brahma’s remarks, the EC issued a statement — approved by all commissioners — saying the “top leadership comprising all three commissioners functions as a team and is discharging its constitutional responsibilities with firmness and the required promptitude”.
It denied it was taking longer to deal with poll violations. “The subjects that require minute inputs from the field and further verification take a little more time and are accordingly disposed of,” the EC statement read.
But earlier in the day, before the damage control exercise, the EC issued a rebuttal to Brahma’s claim that exit polls can’t be held till May 16, terming his statement a “slip of the tongue” and clarifying that the exit poll ban would end at 6.30pm on May 12.
The EC was also reported to be divided over the appointment of a new army chief with Brahma wanting the appointment deferred till after polls. But the other two commissioners were not willing to overrule the EC’s standing instruction allowing such appointments and there was no final view on the appointment till Friday evening.
On the complaint against Rahul, Brahma said the EC would take a decision either way by 6pm. But sources in the poll panel said the chief electoral officer has been asked to inquire as there was no clarity on whether Rahul had breached the secrecy of the vote.
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