Not so fair mandate
As if the denigrated politics between able politicians of our country was not enough to mar the sacrosanct process of election in India, low turnout amongst voters and unethical practices at polling booth have further blemished India's free and fair democratic dream. Spanning over seven phases, Lok Sabha elections have witnessed some controversial incidents enough to tip off the scale of transparency from these polls. As if opposition parties rallying about their plea to first the Election Commission and then the Supreme Court was not enough, instances of voters being influenced at polling booths coupled with alleged rigging reported at several places build a dismal picture. Despite EC's best efforts with polling stations being manned by competent officials, Faridabad incident occurred with the accused pressing buttons in place of voters and not just once but thrice. The accused, a BJP polling agent, was arrested by Palwal Police after a video of him allegedly trying to influence voters at a polling booth in Faridabad went viral on social media. FIR was registered and the person is out on bail already but what he plotted to do at the polling station has been done and his bail in a single day for an offence which is potentially detrimental to society has no cause for deterrence. The same man might as well make it to any of the polling booths in the next phase and indulge in similar unethical practices of either influencing voters or obstructing the election process. And, knowing that effective deterrents don't exist, he will gladly pursue his interests. To put it as him having an allegiance for BJP and hence indulging in such an act is another case altogether but to indulge at all is the real adversity. Time and again, instances across the nation have only made us aware of us the ways in which unethical elements have invaded the fair elections. Clashes in Bengal during voting are a case in point. While between politicos a war of words, public denigration, wild accusations, et al are regular features which are sometimes extended to shameful instances like slapping a candidate during road show or distributing defamatory pamphlets to denigrate opposition party candidate. They say Delhi represents a picture of entire India. Well, in that case, the low voter turnout and instances of unethicality only push us to believe that similarly dismal has been the case across India. Voters even complained of their names being struck off the electoral roll while ground instances of faulty EVMs and VVPAT not matching the EVM choice surfaced, though uncorroborated and specific to individuals. A polling process with a great deal of money spent to conduct the same and humongous personnel strength at it demands a fair outcome. But aforementioned troubles on the way do not suggest one. EVMs had kicked the evergreen problem of ballot stuffing out of the window but then technology always remained vulnerable to the man itself. It was due to such inadequacies that were reported across the six phases of Lok Sabha elections till now that a push for 50 per cent matching of VVPAT counts was adamantly pursued by the consortium of opposition parties with BJP, naturally, not being part of the same. While the election commission pressed for the fact that results will be delayed by days, it forgot how the authenticity of the outcome remains priceless and hence was not really a concern for anyone but BJP maybe. With MCC flouted like class rules and legal pleas being processed to force EC's hand on penal action, the feedback has not been great for the ongoing elections.
A country of the size like India is not immune to adversities in such a tedious process spanning over almost two months but with the resources and personnel at their disposal, EC is very much capable of ensuring a controversy-free election. Clean chits to certain politicos is a matter of debate for those who speak with their allegiances forward. An average voter can only argue if s/he thought of the poll process as morally upright and transparent. To the average voter, party politics does not matter as much as on ground machinations to serve vested interests, that too under the nose of officials manning mandate mediums.