Former chief election commissioner TS Krishnamurthy on Tuesday said the poll body has done ‘a good job’ in conducting the Lok Sabha elections but could have taken decisions on certain complaints in time. Also Read - Anup Chandra Pandey, Retired UP Cadre IAS Officer, Appointed Election Commissioner
He also came out in support of the demand of Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa that his dissent be recorded in orders on model code of conduct (MCC) violation cases. Also Read - Remarks against EC: Retrograde to Restrain HCs From Making Observations or Gag Media From Reporting Observations, Says SC
“Election Commission did a good job (in conduct of elections), reasonably well…”, he told PTI. Also Read - Treat It As a Bitter Pill In Right Way: Supreme Court To Election Commission Over Madras HC's Murder Charges' Remarks
The former CEC said he was not surprised by political parties’ attack on the Election Commission, saying when it takes a decision on complaints of MCC violations, it has to be “one way or the other”.
But Krishnamurthy, who oversaw the 2004 General Elections, said the EC should have taken some decisions (on MCC violations) in time, and also while passing orders, it should have given reasons. He did not go into specifics.
“There is also criticism by one of the Election Commissioners about dissent having been not recorded; I don’t see no reason why dissent cannot be recorded”, he said.
“They (EC) could have taken decisions quickly instead of waiting for some time; secondly they could have given reasons whenever they have taken a view and the third one is if somebody wants dissent to be recorded, it’s in fairness to record”, Krishnamurthy said.
He also expressed the view that the EC should have considered postponing elections in violence-hit constituencies of West Bengal to send a strong message to political parties that such things cannot be condoned.
EC, Krishnamurthy said, took prompt action in curtailing campaign time in the state as “there was so much of violence from all sides” in West Bengal.
But he added EC should have also even thought of postponing the elections in such cases because political parties should know “these sort of things” would not be condoned.
“The ‘brahmastra’ that the EC has is postponement. You can’t do it in every case, (but) where there is too much of violence, they (political parties) should know and it has to be dealt with very seriously. In serious violations, parties should know that we will postpone the elections”, he said.
When he was serving as CEC, Krishnamurthy recalled, a ruling party member in a state said all the poll observers should be taken to the police station and they should not be allowed to function.
“I called up the Chief Minister and told him that we will have to consider postponing the entire election in the state if this is the attitude, and officially it must to be contradicted and they (the State government) did contradict”, he said.
“So, there was a better understanding between political parties and state governments and the Election Commission”, he said.
Krishnamurthy said he is “very disturbed” by hate speeches and personal attacks by politicians during the campaign in the seven-phase election that concluded Sunday.
“Somehow this time, so much of hatred, personal attacks and all that…felt very disturbed that such things should have happened”.
He said the EC should give a strong message to political parties that violence, hatred and personal attacks cannot be tolerated.
“And only ‘brahmastra’ that the EC has is postponement of elections but you have to do it very carefully, selectively in a few cases”.
“In spite of so much of hatred, personal attacks and violence, we have been able to complete (the elections”), Krishnamurthy said.
According to him, EC should insist on having adequate paramilitary forces to conduct the elections in future within 4-5 phases, which would be ideal.
“I am sure they (EC) would have considered shorter schedule, but they did not have adequate paramilitary forces.
So, now onwards they have to build on the paramilitary forces… adequacy of paramilitary forces so that our target should be four or five-phase elections and not seven-phased elections in future”, Krishnamurthy said.
He said the “big takeaway” from the elections is that there is a need for urgent implementation of electoral reforms.