Do decisions on campaign bans show the electoral inefficiency and prejudice of the election commission?

The Election Commission (EC) was at the center of two scandals during Assam’s Assembly elections, which ended on Tuesday. An Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) was discovered in a private vehicle belonging to a BJP candidate’s spouse in the first instance. The EC’s decision to relax its 48-hour lobbying ban on BJP minister Himanta Biswa Sarma sparked the second controversy. Both sparked heated national debates, with Congress accusing the Commission of failing to fulfil its responsibilities.
What happened in the controversy of the electronic voting machine?
After the second phase of voting in Assam was completed, the controversy erupted. A video of polling officers transporting an EVM in a vehicle owned by a BJP candidate surfaced on social media just hours after voting ended on April 1. The car had been used for a vote at polling station 149 in Indira MV School at Ratabari Assembly in the Barak valley and belonged to Krishnendu Paul’s wife, who was a BJP candidate from the nearby Patharkandi constituency.
The Election Commission recognized that the officers had broken the transport policy to EVMs, which had been checked and reserved and disqualified six officers for lapse by traveling in a private car. The EC requested the repoll for polling station 149 when saying that the EVM seal was intact.
What is the EVM transport protocol of the EC? And how often do those errors occur?
In the Commission’s transport protocol on EVMs that have been polled and reserved, the polling machines cannot be taken in private custody or in a private position in any situations. Furthermore, any EVM should always be covered by armed police after the vote is final. Thus, the decision of the polling party to take a trip in a private car was an EVM and therefore an infringement of EC law.
These are not new slip-ups. Recently in separate assembly elections, there were quite a number. Whether or not these failures have evolved or are quickly found due to the impact of the social media. The biggest event was on November 27, 2018, when four election officers took EVM to a hotel against EC course, at the Madhya Pradesh assembly. The 4 officers were automatically replaced, but no repoll order was placed as the computers concerned had been included in the stock of reserves and did not vote in the State. The same year, the EC suspended the returning officer from Pali during the election of the Rajasthan Assembly, after an EVM was allegedly found in a BJP candidate’s house. Another event in which the EC suspended two officials was a discovery of a sealed voting machine in the Baran district of Rajasthan. In the stock the machine was included.
How did EC tackle the violation?
The Election Commission prohibited the 48-hour campaign for Himanta Biswa Sarma for violations. It was resolved to forbid him in a congressional lawsuit that Sarma had “openly intimidated,” by “misuse” the National Investigation Agency, to send Hagrama Mohilary, President of the Bodolands People’s Party (BPF). BPF is part of the coalition headed by the Congress. However, the Commission loosened the ban to 24 hours in less than a day, which was very much critical.
The last time the EC lifted a ban was during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, which took place seven years ago. The EC lifted its ban on BJP leader Amit Shah campaigning in Uttar Pradesh at the time after he told the poll panel that he would not “making any utterances violative” of the election code. This was the first time the EC had used Article 324’s unusual powers to discourage anyone from campaigning. Shah and Azam Khan, the chief of the Samajwadi Party, had been put under a travel ban. Although Shah apologized, Khan remained adamant, so the relaxation was limited to the former.
However, though the EC has disqualified many individuals from campaigning for breaching the MCC, Sarma’s case is just the second instance in which the EC partly reversed its decision.
Has the Commission responded to the political parties’ criticism?
Traditionally, the EC has avoided reacting to political party charges. However, it has recently made a few exceptions with the Trinamool Congress, which has repeatedly accused the EC of behaving at the BJP’s request. The EC did not respond to Congress’s claim that the Panel had “singularly failed” to comply with its duty to uphold the cleanliness of the electoral procedure, with the two disputes in Assam. However, a senior EC official told the paper that the EVM incident was a stray one and that the Commission had directed a repoll to resolve any questions that may have emerged in the minds of the people. With regard to Sarma, the officer stated that, if he apologized and expressed guilt, the Commission cannot sanction the nominee.

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