Sunday, May 2, 2021

Election Commission Failed Indians during Covid times

It is a known fact that, Covid loves crowds. Any large gathering can soon become a super-spreader event. At the time of Covid, even one of them is disastrous. So, what would you say, if election commission of India (ECI), let numerous those events to happen?

In April 2021, assembly elections were conducted in 4 Indian states and 1 union territory. Out of that, Kerala, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu elections were conducted in one go (April 6); Assam elections were completed in 3 phases (March 27 to April 6); West Bengal elections were conducted in 8 phases (Mar 27 to April 29)!!! 

In election campaigning, there were hardly any Covid protocols observed on the ground. Thousands of people attended rallies - without maintaining distance or wearing masks and there were numerous rallies. In West Bengal, elections were one month-long; Covid protocols were hardly existing in that time frame. During and after the elections Covid cases in India started breaking the records every day. I am not saying election are the only reason for that; but it contributed significantly. 

COVID-19 Numbers

As a matter of fact, if you look into the Covid curves of other states; you may see the same pattern. Non-observance of covid protocols and low vaccination rates affected everywhere. But that doesn't reduce the role of elections in the surging Covid case load. 

It is the responsibility of the election commission to provide the rules, guidelines, and framework for these elections. ECI entirely failed in factoring in Covid to these events. It is not that this institution was helpless. ECI is a very powerful institution under the Indian constitution. 

Some of those powers which are relevant in this case are,   
  • Register and deregister any political party or entity.
  • Enforce the ‘Model Code of Conduct’ for election campaigns and ensures its implementation.
  • Appoint officers as election observers and expenditure observers from different departments of the Civil Services.
Question is, 
  • Did the commission act in any meaningful way to force the state governments and responsible administrative officers to act when Covid protocols were violated in the campaign? 
  • Why they allow mass rallies? 
  • What was the reason to conduct a month-long election in West Bengal? Couldn’t it be reduced to two or three phases instead of making it a long festival?
If such an important administrative organ fails to conduct elections in a responsible manner; then how can the government tell its citizens that a marriage/festival cannot be attended by more than 50 or 100 people; and should follow strict Covid protocols. Government is losing moral authority here. 

Current elections are over and Covid numbers are going above the roof. This should act as a ready reckoner to other institutions and people. Remember, Covid virus likes crowds and loves recklessness.


No comments:

Post a Comment