Political parties and politicians beware: do not even think of violating the model code of conduct in the general elections. For, the Election Commission has thought up of a 'Violation Index' to mount moral pressure on them by inspiring voter reaction against the offenders.
Soon to be introduced 'Violation Index’ for political parties will quantify the code violations for the voters to make a value judgement and vote accordingly. The index, constantly updated to reflect current poll code violations, will be posted on the Election Commission website for anyone to see.
Each violation will be counted and the numbers put up against the name of the political party, so that voters can instantly know who is the bigger culprit when it came to use of unfair means to woo the electorate.
The higher the number of points a party tots up on the Violation Index, the bigger offender it will become.
Explaining the rationale behind the decision, West Bengal Chief electoral officer (CEO), Debashis Sen, said “we are going to have a violation index this election to keep a tab on political parties violating the model code of conduct. It’s part of our moral persuasion effort as we want to make political parties adhere to the model code of conduct and do nothing that can influence voters."
He was participating in an interactive session on ‘Strong Election Commission, Strong Democracy’ organised by the Merchant Chamber of Commerce in Kolkata on Tuesday.
This is how the Violation Index will be compiled. "There would be specific points for each kind of violation and the party that tops in the index would be adjudged the highest offender. The entire data of the index would be put on website so that general people can know how the parties have fared in violating the model code of conduct,” said Sen.
Citing an example, he said, for wall writing without permission, in the scale of 10, one point would be added at the violation index, three points for bribing and subsequently 10 points for making communal statements. For rectifying a violation, the party would get 0.5 points as bonus, which will be subtracted.
As the index will be made public, voters would have a real chance to assess for themselves which party was fair and which one foul, and this may even change their perception and voting preference. It is on this possible voter behaviour the Election Commission is counting for the index to score.
“Our officers are travelling across the state and collecting data on violation of model code of conduct by parties and candidates. And the index would be up on the website from April 2 onwards,” Sen said.
Sen also said that people could call up or send SMS at 9830079999 for Kolkata police area and at 9836255556 for Bengal police area if they want to complain against their walls being painted with poll graffiti without their consent during the election. In other States and cities too, the numbers on which people can make complaints will be publicised.
Giving his personal opinion, the CEO said an option 'none of the above' should be allowed in EVMs, so that a voter finds none of the candidates worthy enough of his vote, he or she has the option to not to vote for any candidate in fray at all.