Citing ingenuous ways in which politicians seek to influence voters, former chief election commissioner SY Quraishi said on Thursday that dealing with the use of black money in elections was the commission’s greatest challenge.
Speaking at an event to launch his book, ‘The Undocumented Wonder: The Making of the Great Indian Election’ at the Indian High Commission before an audience comprising British legislators and Indian high commissioner Ranjan Mathai among others, Quraishi said the EC had succeeded in “making life miserable” for politicians, but money power remained its greatest challenge.
He said EC officials often encountered lavish ‘marriage ceremonies’, where a large number of people partied during polls, only to find that there were was no bride or groom.
He said voter apathy was another major challenge the commission faced. He mentioned the initiatives undertaken by the EC’s ‘voter education division’ which led to some increase in voting percentage, but much ground remained to be covered.
On the phenomenon of ‘paid news’ during elections, Quraishi told HT: “We have acted on this important issue, but the Press Council of India needs to be given more powers to deal with this”.
Quraishi said there were five ‘pillars of strength’ for the EC: the bureaucracy that conducts elections, the politicians who enacted laws to empower the EC, the judiciary, the media that highlights abuses that are acted upon swiftly by the EC, and the people of India who, according to him, “are the smartest people in the world”.