It’s not just Caesar’s wife, but the Election Commission must also be above suspicion. Though this is not the first time the EC faces charges from the Opposition, the allegations it is facing this time are of more serious nature. Conducting polls from Kashmir to Kanyakumari is certainly no easy task. At the same time, the ECI should put in its best efforts to ensure that everything is done in a free and fair manner.
At a time when the Election Commission was under fire from Opposition parties for being biased, former President Pranab Mukherjee lauded the role of the poll panel saying the 2019 Lok Sabha polls were conducted ‘perfectly’. Speaking at a book launch event, he said right from the first Election Commissioner Sukumar Sen to the present Election Commissioners, the institution was working very well. “If democracy has succeeded, it is largely due to perfect conduct of elections by Election Commissioners starting from Sukumar Sen to the present Election Commissioners,” Mukherjee had said.
However, hours after his address, he expressed concern at allegations of EVM or vote machine tampering – described by him as tampering of voters’ verdict – and said the “onus of ensuring institutional integrity” lies with the Election Commission. “The safety and security of EVMs which are in the custody of the EC is the responsibility of the Commission… There can be no room for speculation that challenge the very basis of our democracy. People’s mandate is sacrosanct and has to be above any iota of reasonable doubt,” he said, and added: “A firm believer in our institutions, it is my considered opinion that it is the ‘workmen’ who decide how the institutional ‘tools’ perform.” Now, it is time for the EC to treat bouquets and brickbats alike and carry out its task in a neutral manner.