Retired officials, veterans and academics remind Election Commission of transgressions

-The Telegraph

Protest over alleged 'procrastination, silence and inaction' of the poll panel during Lok Sabha elections

New Delhi: Over 145 retired civil service officers, military veterans and renowned academics have come together to question the “procrastination, silence and inaction” that characterised the Election Commission’s response to issues thrown up during the recent general election.

“The 2019 General Elections appear to have been one of the least free and fair elections that the country has had in the past three decades or so,” 64 former IAS, IFS, IPS and IRS officers said in an open letter to the Election Commission. The letter has been endorsed by 83 veterans and academics.

In a comprehensive exercise unmatched in recent memory, the letter painstakingly lists almost every doubt that had been cast on the election process over the past few months.

The letter refers to media reports and accepts “that not every media report is accurate or true” but points out that “the ECI’s non-rebuttal of an untrue or inaccurate story leaves the public to draw its own conclusion: that the ECI has no valid explanation to offer”.

The letter, which came a day ahead of an Opposition-initiated short-duration discussion in the Rajya Sabha on electoral reforms, concludes: “Viewed in totality, there is no doubt that the mandate of 2019 has been thrown into serious doubt. The concerns raised are too central to the well-being of our democracy for the ECI (Election Commission of India) to leave unexplained.

“In the interests of ensuring that this never happens again, the ECI needs to pro-actively issue public clarifications in respect of each of these reported irregularities, and put in place steps to prevent such incidents from occurring in future. This is essential to restore the people’s faith in our electoral process.”

At one point, the letter quotes an article by an academic to say “it is not our job as citizens to offer proof of wrong-doing of the highest institutions of the land, when these institutions function in so opaque a manner. It is our job to raise questions about visible anomalies. It is the responsibility of the Election Commission to explain the anomalies”.

The open letter accomplishes another unsung task in an amnesiac age: it has curated the transgressions and misgivings that have been whitewashed in an avalanche of triumphalism.

The following edited excerpts list the key issues the letter seeks to raise:

Poll dates

The bias of the Election Commission towards one particular party became evident from the date of announcement of the elections. The announcement was delayed till March 10. This led to the reasonable doubt that the ECI deliberately delayed the announcement to enable Prime Minister Narendra Modi to complete the inauguration blitz of a slew of projects (157 of them) that he had scheduled between February 8 and March 9.

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The Telegraph, 3 July, 2019,

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