New Delhi, April 9 (IANS) A group of former bureaucrats and diplomats, including Najeeb Jung and Shiv Shankar Menon, has written a letter to President Ram Nath Kovind complaining that the Election Commission of India (ECI) was suffering from “a crisis of credibility” and alleged that the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) has been violated several times, but the poll body has failed to take action.
“We write to express our deep anguish that the ECI is suffering from a crisis of credibility today. 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,” they said in the letter written on Monday.
The civil servants said they were distressed to note the “misuse, abuse and blatant disregard” of the MCC by the ruling party at the Centre and the ECI’s “pusillanimity” in coming down with a heavy hand on these violations.
Referring to the ECI’s clean cheat to Prime Minister’s public announcement on March 27 about the successful launch of India’s first anti-satellite weapon (ASAT), they said that parading the achievements of a government after the announcement of elections was tantamount to a “serious breach of propriety”.
“The ECI’s decision does not stand up to the standards of impartiality expected of it,” they said.
Over the controversy surrounding release of a biopic on the Prime Minister, the group opined that it represents a backdoor effort to garner free publicity for a political person (and his party).
“If this biopic is released even while the election process is ongoing, we contend that the entire expenses on the production, distribution and publicity of the biopic should be debited to the election expenses of Narendra Modi,” the group said.
The group also accused the ECI of acting with “lethargy” in respect of the NaMo TV channel and transfer of three top police officers and the Chief Secretary in Andhra Pradesh and four top police officers in West Bengal.
“No such steps have been taken in Tamil Nadu, where the present Director General of Police (DGP) is reportedly under investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation in the Gutkha scam case and there have been repeated appeals by the Opposition parties in Tamil Nadu seeking his removal from that post,” they said.
Raising concerns over the Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh’s statement supporting Modi, the group demanded his removal from the post.
They also demanded strong action against Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi for their “Modi Ki Sena” remarks and accused the ECI of contenting itself in the cases with a mild reprimand.
“We certainly hope and pray that such mild responses do not embolden others to violate the MCC and weaken the institutions that support our democracy,” they said in the letter.
The group also alleged that Modi made “divisive speeches” during his election rallies in Maharashtra and urged the poll body to take appropriate strict action to discourage all “incendiary” speeches.
Expressing their “deep concern” about the “weak-kneed” conduct of the poll body, the group said any erosion in the people’s confidence in the fairness of the ECI has very grave consequences for the future of our democracy.
They appealed the President that the ECI to conduct itself in a manner where its independence, fairness, impartiality and efficiency was not questioned and to firmly exercise the extensive mandate given to it under Article 324 of the Constitution to ensure that the Indian voter is able to exercise her/his franchise without fear or favour.