Chennai: With elections just days away, the Election Commission of India has now been hit by a thunderbolt of a petition by a group of 66 former civil servants, some of them well-known for the high positions they had held, complaining to the President that the ECI has lost credibility and seeking his intervention to ensure free and fair elections. The petition has listed nine instances, most of them involving Prime Minister Narendra Modi, where the ECI had allegedly failed to act.
“The ECI’s independence, fairness, impartiality and efficiency are perceived to be compromised today, thereby endangering the integrity of the electoral process which is the very foundation of Indian democracy”, said ‘Constitutional Conduct Group’ in its 5-page letter to President on Monday.
“We write to express our deep anguish that the ECI, which has had a long and honourable record of holding free and fair elections despite the enormous challenges of scale and complexity, is suffering from a crisis of credibility today”, said the Group. “We are distressed to note the misuse, abuse and blatant disregard of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) by the ruling party at the Centre, and the ECI’s pusillanimity in coming down with a heavy hand on these violations”.
The ‘weak-kneed conduct” of the ECI has reduced the credibility of this constitutional body “to an all-time low”, it alleged.
Among the cases of violation of the model code of conduct (MCC) that the G-66 petition listed out while alleging failure of the ECI to crack the whip is the public announcement made by PM Modi (March 27) about the successful launch of India’s first anti-satellite weapon (ASAT).
“While the timing of the exercise is questionable, even more questionable is the fact that the announcement by the Prime Minister when propriety demanded that it should have been left to the officials of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) at a time when the MCC was operative. The country was facing no immediate security threat that required the Prime Minister, who is an election candidate himself, to make a public announcement”, said the petition.