Skip to main content

'Defiance' of Election Commission guidelines in Tamil Nadu: Do media, politicians care?

By NS Venkataraman* 

With the polling in Tamil Nadu over, many citizens heave a sigh of relief that they would be spared from the noise made by politicians and media at least for the next few weeks, it is time to reflect for a moment about the role of the Election Commission in Tamil Nadu and what kind of respect it commanded from the media and the political parties.
The Election Commission specifically said that no campaign should be carried out in the print and visual media, social media such as Twitter, WhatsApp etc.. on the day preceding the election. Forty eight hours before the election day, no pre-poll survey should be discussed.
However, the print and visual media as well as politicians simply did not take note of the guidelines from the Election Commission, which obviously means, perhaps, they are indifferent as far as the Election Commission is concerned.
Even newspapers published in Tamil and English with long tradition and what one would think of as the reputation that they have to protect, carried massive advertisements running into several pages from more than one political party on April 5, 2021, a day before the polling. 
 It was shocking for a person like me reading a particular English newspaper for over five decades and with a vice like grip that the paper has over me, to find a cartoon published in the centre page on April 5 which is obviously partisan and seems to be aimed at one or two political parties. Obviously, the publication of the cartoon must have been approved by the editor.
One Tamil channel discussed the pre-poll survey on April 4 night, which was against the guidelines issued by the Election Commission, which does not appear to have reacted to such defiance by the political parties and the media.
Highly concerned about such a scenario, I sent a mail to several persons who retired as top officers in the state and central governments, persons known for courage of conviction and some so-called “ordinary people” who have been silently fuming about the steady fall in the value systems in India.
To my surprise, around 70% of the people to whom I sent messages responded. It appears most of them concurred with my concern. Some of them said that the Election Commission has become weak. Some others said that the public opinion has become very weak and impotent.
Tamil and English newspapers carried massive ads running into several pages from more than one political party a day before the polling
Some others said that the section of media has become irresponsible, as it attaches more importance to business promotion and earning money by way of advertisement rather than by standing for the cause as expected by the common people. Some people said that people are also responsible as they put up with all such violations and remain as spectators from the gallery.
Some are of the view that the Election Commission has been systematically weakened by the judiciary, as several decisions of the Election Commission have been overruled by the judiciary in recent times. It appears that the judiciary has developed an “elder brother” attitude towards the Election Commission, though the judiciary and Election Commission are constitutional bodies and derive their authority from the constitution.
An elderly journalist, who practiced as an active journalist in better times, sarcastically said that the “election process in India has become one of the Election Commission versus the rest”.
Another view expressed was that while Election Commission routinely issue warnings and show cause notice to the candidates and political parties not adhering to the guidelines, rarely any action is taken after the conclusion of the poll against those defying the guidelines. They go scot free. One gets an impression that Election Commission wants to go through the poll process somehow. Is the poll process in Tamil Nadu is a case of "operation successful and patient died"?
---
Trustee, Nandini Voice For the Deprived, Chennai

Comments

Anonymous said…
the political parties are fully aware that the EC has transformed itself into the EC of the BJP. Why should political parties care - as long as they have the right affiliations and party?

TRENDING

Communal rhetoric? Hindutva preached by RSS-BJP is 'monolithic', not Hinduism

By Prem Verma*  I am a devout Hindu but not a believer of RSS Hindutva form of Hinduism which brings about hatred of other religions. My Hindu religion has not taught me to look down on other religions and neither has it instilled in me to go about converting others to my religion because my religion is superior.

India sees 62 journo deaths, 4th highest, amidst pandemic: Swiss media rights body

By Our Representative The Switzerland-based media rights body Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) has noted that India is the fourth most affected country as far as mediapersons’ death on account of Covid-19 is concerned. According to Blaise Lempen, secretary-general of PEC, the global tally of casualties among media persons in the Covid-19 pandemic has reached 1,036 journalists in 73 countries till date.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Gross 'injustice' to children: Rs 5000 cr cut in education budget; 15 lakh schools shut down

Counterview Desk  More than 100 dignitaries, including educationists, academia, social activists, teachers’ union, civil society organisations (CSOs), various networks and people working on child rights, in a letter to Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman have sought reversal of reduction in allocation for education in the Union Budget 2021-22, even as demanding substantial increase in it.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

RSS love for 'killer' Myanmar junta behind Indian military presence at Tatmadaw Day?

By Shamsul Islam*  If a shameful act means an action which is criminal and nauseating, it would be an understatement to describe the attitude of the present RSS-BJP rulers of India towards the demolition of democracy and large-scale killing of the people of Myanmar by the military ( tatmadaw ) junta which took power through a coup on February 1, 2021 after renegading the election results in which the party of Aung San Suu Kyi, National League for Democracy, was a clear winner.

Chhattisgarh’s Apra riverfront imitates Sabarmati: 'Devaluing' water, environment

Sabarmati riverfront By Mansee Bal Bhargava*  This year’s #WorldWaterDay (March 22) focus was on ‘Valuing Water’. My school friend, Pragati Tiwari from Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh, called that day knowing my interest in water matters. We were remembering our childhood days as how we used to play on the banks and the bed of the Arpa Nadi (River) during the summer holidays and as how the river would swell like Anaconda to flow happily during the monsoon.

Bihar massacre on Holi day: Brahminical, casteist mindset behind 'uneasy' silence

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  Several people were killed in Bihar amidst Holi festivities, but not much response has come in from the media. The silence of the government and the society as a whole is also appalling. We seek to romanticise these festivals, yet we forget that every year they take so many lives. This despite the fact that Holi appears to be the best time for 'avenging things'.

India's draft migrants policy: Whither concern on job restrictions imposed by states?

By Anil Kumar*  India’s Niti Aayog has prepared a Draft Migration Policy. The draft policy acknowledges migration as an integral part of development, and it calls for positive government interventions that facilitate internal migration. With a rights-based solution to migration, the draft states that the policy should “enhance the agency and capability of the community and thereby remove aspects that come in the way of an individual’s own natural ability to thrive”.

Recalling Jallianwala martyrs' communal amity as BJP 'warns' of Sitalkuchi everywhere

By Shamsul Islam*  The RSS-BJP rulers declare India to be a battle-ground between Hinduism and Islam. Muslims have been declared as ‘internal threat’ by RSS ideologue MS Golwalkar (“Bunch of Thought”, Chapter xvi). Behaviour of many of their leading cadres, including those who hold high constitutional posts, is such that they seem to be conspiring over-time to ignite a civil war between the two communities. They are under the impression that this would help divert attention from failures of the Hindutva rulers on developmental front.