Rule breakers to turn rule makers?
The slog overs of Election 2014, the world’s largest democratic exercise of universal franchise, have been now sufficiently smeared with the tars of indiscretion. Not only have been inflammatory and hate speeches been ritually thrown around to arouse impassioned voters and divide them along caste, religion, language and other axes of discrimination, even the top leaders, who had hitherto shunned resorting to openly flouting the model code of conduct as laid down by the Election Commission of India, have started gunning for imprudence. Whether out of desperation or ill-judgment, prime ministerial aspirants of both the main political camps have been found to be rule breakers, dumping EC norms to up their vote shares in mega constituencies. While the saffron strongman Narendra Modi had enraged the EC and sections of the media by first clicking his ‘selfie’ with BJP’s lotus symbol on his shirt right outside the polling booth in Ahmedabad and then addressing the press, Rahul Gandhi had been interacting with officials inside a polling booth in Amethi on 7 May when the constituency held its vote. Both the instances violate different clauses of the Representation of the People Act, 1951. While Rahul’s presence inside the booth flouts the sacrosanct norm of the secret ballot, Modi’s arrogant gesture defies the EC rule of no party campaign or display of election symbol at the site while polls are going on.
Not only that, Priyanka Gandhi’s political secretary was also found in Amethi much after the campaign deadline had ended. There’s hardly any ambiguity regarding the exact time when politicians and their propagandists leave the polling premises. Even Aam Aadmi Party’s Kumar Vishwas and Somnath Bharti had FIRs filed against them because of overstay in Amethi, the former’s Lok Sabha constituency. In addition, the second and third tier leaders such as Amit Shah of BJP, Azam Khan of Samajwadi Party or Imran Masood of Congress have been rattling their sabre teeth, firing salvos at people belonging to other religious camps and trying to rake up latent communal fears. While the media has spent ream after newsream lamenting the dwindling of political discourse in this bitterly acerbic general election, what hasn’t yet been adequately discussed or addressed is whether these law breakers would now be chosen to become lawmakers of the country. Not only this prospect is a direct assault on and an insult to the leveling spirit of democracy, it is equally threatening on a symbolic plane. If the top leaders and next regime’s probable faces are seen debunking the Election Commission with élan, can the rest be blamed for doing the same? And what kind of rules would be framed by rulers who lay foundations of their regime by openly contravening the law of the land?