Modi-fied code of conduct for Uttar Pradesh Assembly Elections?

Election Commission’s collaboration with Modi will go down the annals of history as an act of sheer betrayal


Unless a state becomes a phoney democracy, it’s imperative that it holds free and fair elections. One of the basic conditions of holding a free and fair election is that the agency conducting the election exhibits neutrality in words and deeds. In India, the Election Commission conducts the election and becomes a government in itself whenever the Lok Sabha election dates are announced. Its Model Code of Conduct (MCC), designed to ensure fair elections and prevent any type of tampering with the system, is observed strictly. Apparently that’s what the textbook says; in reality, the scenario and the practices deviate far, far away from the state of ideal fairness.

With someone as Prime Minister Narendra Modi contesting the election with the world’s richest party — BJP — backing him with its resources, and all state institutions exhibiting their utmost loyalty towards his regime, it’s inevitable to find the Election Commission’s veil of impartiality left threadbare for all to see how it nakedly collaborates with the ruling party. The world’s largest election exercise has become a travesty of democracy and universal suffrage, as the Election Commission of India is acting as an unapologetic lackey of the BJP and allowing it undue leverage vis-a-vis its opponents.

After a nationwide outcry over the BJP’s blatant use of the pictures of Indian Air Force, its Flight Lieutenant Abhinandan Varthaman, who was captured by Pakistani Army after his MiG 21 Bison was shot down during an air reconnaissance in Pakistani airspace and later released as a gesture of goodwill, and the purported Balakot air strike illustration, in its propaganda material and posters, the Election Commission reiterated its previous stand, which it issued during the aftermath of the Kargil War of 1999, that no reference to the armed forces should be made to garner votes during the election campaign. However, suffering ignominy for its utter failure in resolving the gargantuan unemployment issue, increasing communal polarisation and mob lynchings of minority Muslims, the rising prices of commodities and fuel, the intensifying farm crisis resulting into the tightening of the noose of debt around farmers’ neck, and the overall opprobrium it has received due to its disastrous economic management, the BJP has no other option before itself but use the jingoistic propaganda over nationalism, quintessential of the RSS and its progeny, to lend a verisimilitude to the Modi regime’s claim of winning a victory against Pakistan-sponsored terrorism through purported surgical strikes.

The prime minister, with utmost impunity and disregard for the country’s political tradition, has been asking the first-time voters to vote his party for the sake of the armed forces. His blatant violation of the MCC and the Election Commission’s directive shows how he considers himself and the BJP above any type of establised norms and laws. Modi’s utter disregard of the MCC or any other hygenic provisions of a free and fair election is a salient proof of the RSS’s disregard for laws and constitutional values, and it also signals their utmost desperation to do away with the last vestiges of parliamentary liberal democracy (which remained a fiefdom of the Indian ruling classes — the upper-caste Hindu feudal landlords and comprador capitalists — since inception) as it’s no more serving the purpose of unbridled corporate loot and plunder of Indian resources and labour due to the scope of limited opposition embedded in the democratic norms. The Election Commission’s sheer nonchalant attitude towards such unabashed violation of the MCC by a constitutional post-holder like Modi signals its connivance with the RSS in implementing the notorious Hindu Rashtra project of the saffron camp.

The Election Commission didn’t take any action against the BJP for running the NaMo TV, which is a free channel bundled with other such free channels in all Direct to Home satellite TV package. It’s found that the channel is uplinked and downlinked without any prior permission from the Information & Broadcasting ministry (I&B). This blatant violation of rules, which poses a threat to national security as well, couldn’t have been tolerated by the I&B ministry if the channel belonged to Modi’s opponents, including the Congress Party. A Congress channel without proper clearance and permission would have provided the BJP and Modi with enough ammo to accuse the Grand Old Party of terrorism and national security violation. Even after BJP IT Cell’s chief Amit Malviya’s clarification that the NaMo TV is owned by the BJP, there have been no remarkable steps taken by the Election Commission to stop the channel. Through this force feeding of the prime minister’s lectures and propaganda to the common people the Election Commission is proving its role as an agency of the ruling party, rather than that of the democracy.

The Election Commission’s reluctance to stop, or even censor, the rabble-rouser prime minister’s harangue shakes the façade of Indian sham democracy. It shows how deeply the state apparatus and different sections of the ruling classes are nakedly collaborating to provide a competitive edge to the BJP in what’s termed as the last election per se in India. Forget the prime minister, the Election Commission can’t even take any action against the likes of Maneka Gandhi, Sakshi Maharaj, Yogi Adityanath and other Hindutva fascist proselytisers who are openly spewing communal venom during their election campaign. It’s clearly understood when the minions can’t be booked for their crimes, then there remains no scope for the prosecution and punishment of their masters.

By allowing the BJP’s parental body, the Hindutva fascist fountainhead, RSS, along with a host of other Hindutva fascist organisations, that camouflage as “social” or “religious” organisations to avoid the political restrictions, operate freely and mobilise a large number of Hindutva thugs to polarise the majority Hindu community through armed rallies and communal violence against the minority Muslim community in West Bengal, Odisha and Bihar during the Ram Navami celebration, the Election Commission has not only allowed the BJP undue advantages, but also nailed the coffin of its own credibility. The marginalised communities, especially the Muslims are able to see how the institution is acting against them in favour of a power that has a stated goal of relegating the community to second class citizenship upon winning power.

The BJP has a grand scheme of sweeping the national election following the template set by the likes of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Russian President Vladimir Putin or the Zionist Israeli thug Benjamin Netanyahu. The important part of this scheme is the absolute loyalty of the election agency towards the ruling party and its leadership. By deploying their lackeys at the highest positions of the Election Commission, the Modi regime and the BJP have paved their way towards a sweeping majority in the Lok Sabha election and it will only lose to the opposition if the ruling classes smell a rebellion brewing over the election scam, the scope of which is quite less due to the severe communal polarisation of the decision-making upper-caste Hindu elites and middle class done by the Hindutva fascist camp throughout the tenure of Modi. Thus, the Election Commission’s misdeeds will go unpunished as will the Modi regime’s crimes; however, the 2019 general election will go down the annals of history as the most compromised, most biased and the filthiest election organised by the Election Commission during its existence.

Samiksha is the pen name of a fierce woman contributor.

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