In no election in the past has there been so much pressure on the Election Commission from what would normally be described as mainstream political parties. It has been seen that the parties have been taking recourse increasingly to appeals before the EC, as also the Supreme Court, to score points against opponents, to obtain leverage and, also, shape perceptions. It is also clear that this is being done deliberately as a tactic rather than as a natural appeal to the referee. This does not imply, of course, that there are not issues that need to be brought before these bodies, but not as many and as mischievous.
It is not just that – there are also direct attacks against the impartiality of the EC, particularly regarding the use of EVMs. Even though, till date, not a single effective piece of evidence has been provided on exactly how these can be rigged, it has become the ‘Plan B’ for losers to blame EVMs for their defeat. It is done to send the message to followers that the defeat was not because of depleting public support, but for extraneous reasons. By thus repeatedly questioning the EC, its credibility is naturally eroded and resort to future extra-constitutional movements becomes easier. If India is today a successful democracy, much lauded globally, it is because of the robustness of its institutions. However, as has been seen in the case of numerous countries, a decline in the credibility of the process leads to an overall collapse of the system. What follows is visible in many countries across the world. Responsible politics, therefore, requires that politicians limit their questionable antics to within ‘acceptable’ limits.
It is important for voters also to see through such tactics. Nobody knows better than them who received their votes. In fact, along with the other criteria used to judge performance and promises, they ought to also consider the commitment to constitutional practices. Too many politicians take the voters for granted in the belief that their claims to power are beyond the process, based on caste, community, race, dynasty, etc. Every opportunity should be taken to break this mould, be it any level of democracy. Getting voted to power should not be through gimmickry but projection of proven ability.
Thus far, the Election Commission has managed to hold its own. Not only is the complex process of holding elections in such a large and diverse country progressing smoothly, the challenges to its authority have also been effectively handled, with the required help from the SC. It is for the voters now to do their bit.