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Letter to BS: EC has failed to act as a neutral election watchdog

The motive behind the EC's timing of the ban order is suspect

Business Standard 

Election Commission of India, ECI, EC

The Election Commission’s (EC’s) unprecedented decision to cut short election campaign in West Bengal while ensuring that prime minister goes ahead with two of his election rallies already scheduled for Thursday in the state is a brazen misuse of Article 324 of our Constitution. If the ground for such a move was indeed growing incidents of disruption and violence during the campaigning, then, as the opposition parties rightly questioned, why not a clamp down on campaigning with immediate effect? The motive behind the EC’s timing of the ban order is suspect.

Relieving DG CID Rajiv Kumar facing heat from the Central Bureau of Investigation in the Sarada case with a direction to report to the Ministry of Home Affairs by 10 am on Thursday is equally baffling. And it doesn’t stop here, the EC has also relieved the state principal home secretary Attri Bhattacharya of his duties for alleged interference in the process of conducting of elections citing his letter of May 13 to the state’ chief electoral officer (CEO). This is also totally uncalled for. By his letter now in public domain, Bhattacharya had only sought to bring to the CEO’s notice certain instances of disproportionate use of force by the central armed police forces and offered some constructive suggestions for consideration by the commission. By no stretch of imagination, such a letter can be construed as interfering with the conduct of elections. Being so partisan, the EC has failed to act as a neutral election watchdog under the Constitution. This should be matter of concern.

S K Choudhury, Bengaluru

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First Published: Thu, May 16 2019. 22:23 IST