While speaking to the Indian Express about the recent Assembly elections, the newly appointed Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sunil Arora said that the Election Commission cannot be made part of political brinkmanship in reference to the controversies created by the political parties during the recent Assembly elections regarding the EVMs.
“ECI would not like to be part of any political brinkmanship,” said the CEC. Arora said that the words tampering and malfunctioning are being used interchangeably while there is a distinction between the two. Our machines are designed in a way that if anyone tries to fiddle with them, they stop working. He said that the machine cannot be vilified in case of result X and deemed okay in case of result Y.
Arora, who was appointed as the CEC on Dec 2 succeeding O P Rawat, said that the stakeholders have a right to criticise but the EVMs cannot be labeled whatever suits a particular stakeholder at a given time.
On the question of allegations of partisanship leveled by political parties on the Election Commission, Arora replied, “My colleagues and I would carry out our duties in conformity with the letter and spirit of the Constitution. The interactions with political parties that I have attended in the Commission headquarters and on our visit to the states have been very pleasant. I cannot account for what one says to the media after stepping out. You should ask them.”
The Election Commission has also faced criticism for the delay in announcing the result for the Madhya Pradesh Assembly elections. The CEC said that the Commission is not in the race of announcing the result first. Its priority is to get the results correct. “When candidates and their agents ask questions and insist on settling their doubts, then delays are natural,” he said.
The CEC said that he wants that some of the recommendations of the Committee, which was formed for suggesting changes in section 126 of the Representation of People Act, are implemented before the Lok Sabha elections next year.
The Election Commission has also recommended to the Law Ministry that a limit should be laid down on the expenditure of the political parties on their candidates during the elections. Unlimited expenditure of the political parties during elections has been one of the biggest concerns of the EC. The EC had recommended that the expenditure of a party on a candidate for elections should be either 50% or not more than the expenditure ceiling limit provided for the candidate.
As per reports, if the recommendations of the EC are accepted by the government then a political party may not be able to spend more than Rs 25-35 lakh/candidate in case of Lok Sabha elections and not more than Rs 10-14 lakh/candidate in case of assembly elections.