ECI Is Not up to the Task of Sanitising a Chaotic Electoral Process – By Mohsin Alam Bhat

As the dust settles after an acrimonious election cycle, the Election Commission of India (ECI) continues to reel under the unprecedented allegations of bias. This election will most certainly be remembered as the one when there was a complete breakdown of trust between the ECI and the political opposition with politicians and the civil society consistently raising doubts about the veracity of the electronic voting machines and the election timelines.

Among the prominent concerns was ECI’s alleged lackadaisical approach to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s and BJP president Amit Shah’s divisive appeals to religion during the campaign, which are prohibited under the law. But apart from the allegations of bias, a review of the poll body’s orders implementing this prohibition reflects entrenched institutional problems that are bound to undermine public confidence in the long run.…

The polling body has of course not done itself any favours by not being either prompt or transparent. It was the court that nudged the ECI to finally decide the complaints against Modi and Shah. When it proceeded against Adityanath and Mayawati after the court got involved, it was as ad hoc as many of its orders against other violations. But we would serve its long-term health well by reassessing whether institutionally, it is really up to the task of sanitising a chaotic electoral process as much as we may hope.