66 Ex-Bureaucrats Tell President That EC’s Conduct Is ‘Weak-Kneed’
Sixty-six former bureaucrats have sent a letter to the President of India expressing concerns about the ‘weak-kneed conduct of the ECI (Election Commission of India)’.
“Any erosion in the people’s confidence in the fairness of the ECI has very grave consequences for the future of our democracy and we hope that the gravity of the situation will be appreciated by the ECI,” states the letter, a copy of which has been sent to the Chief Election Commissioner.
The letter, dated 8 April 2019, appeals to the Election Commission, through the President, “to conduct itself in a manner where its independence, fairness, impartiality and efficiency are not questioned.”
‘Blatant Disregard’ for the Model Code of Conduct
Citing recent instances of violation of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) by the ruling party, the letter states:
The letter has quoted nine instances when the Election Commission didn’t take any action against the BJP for flouting the Model Code of Conduct.
Public Announcement About A-SAT Amounts to ‘Unfair Publicity’
Giving an example of the public announcement by the prime minister on 27 March 2019, about India’s first anti-satellite weapon (A-SAT), the letter by ex-bureaucrats says, “The country was facing no immediate security threat that required the Prime Minister, who is an election candidate himself, to make a public announcement.”
Responding to a complaint filed by CPI-M General Secretary, Sitaram Yechury, on 29 March, the Election Commission gave a clean chit to the prime minister’s ‘Mission Shakti’ address.
Countering the stand taken by the Election Commission on the issue, the letter by former bureaucrats lashes out by stating:
“Parading the achievements of a government in this manner after the announcement of elections is tantamount to a serious breach of propriety and amounts to giving unfair publicity to the party presently in government and that the ECI’s decision does not stand up to the standards of impartiality expected of it.”Letter to the President by former bureaucrats
Release of Modi Biopic: ‘A Back-door Effort’
An upcoming movie on Prime Minister Modi has generated lot of controversy with the Opposition parties urging the EC to delay the release of Vivek Oberoi starrer.
On 8 April, the Supreme Court said it cannot pass an order on a plea seeking a stay on the release of film as the Censor Board is yet to certify the film. The movie is slated for release on 11 April 2019, which will mark the first phase of polling.
Even as the group of former bureaucrats awaits a response from the EC regarding their concerns over Modi biopic, the letter states:
The letter has also expressed concerns about a web series on Prime Minsiter Modi with the EC ‘again doing nothing’.
“The same principle should also be applied to the 10-part web series Modi: A Common Man’s Journey, the first five episodes of which are out on the streaming platform Eros Now, with the ECI again doing nothing but going through the motions of calling for details.”Letter to the President by former bureaucrats
Launch of NaMo TV: ‘Brazen Violation of Democratic Norms’
The letter has also criticised the EC for not taking a stern action against the launch of NaMo TV, a channel which is dedicated towards broadcasting PM Modi’s speeches.
“The ECI has been acting with the same lethargy in respect of the NaMo TV channel launched on 31 March 2019, which, without any formal approval of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, is propagating the image and views of Shri Narendra Modi,” state the former bureaucrats in their letter to the president.
The fact that subscribers don’t have an option to delete the channel from their menu has been termed as a ‘brazen violation of democratic norms’.
Political Speeches: ‘Departure From Civilised Norms’
The letter has taken a strong view on recent political speeches, including recent remarks by Yogi Adityanath, where he claimed the Indian Army to be ‘Modi ji ki Sena’.
“We also note with consternation the departure from all civilised norms in the speeches being delivered by political personages, both those holding high constitutional positions and others,” states the letter.