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Hate speech, 3 shootings in 4 days: Is EC losing its authority in Delhi election?

In the high-pitched Delhi election campaign, two unidentified men opened fire in the Jamia Millia Islamia neighbourhood Sunday, the third such shooting incident in four days.

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In the high-pitched Delhi election campaign, two unidentified men opened fire in the Jamia Millia Islamia neighbourhood Sunday, the third such shooting incident in four days. UP CM Yogi Adityanath said at a rally that people who don’t listen to words will have to pay heed to bullets. Earlier, the Election Commission had temporarily barred BJP MPs Anurag Thakur and Parvesh Verma from campaigning due to their hate speech.

ThePrint asks: Hate speech, 3 shootings in 4 days: Is EC losing its authority in Delhi election?

Also read: No soft Hindutva, no Left Revolution, Kejriwal establishing a new centre in Indian politics

EC took swift action under Model Code of Conduct but should have filed FIR against Thakur & Singh

Dr. S.Y. QuraishiS.Y. Quraishi
Former chief election commissioner

After Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur raised slogans of ‘desh ke gaddaron ko’ and urged people at an election rally to respond with ‘goli maaro…’ and after BJP MP Parvesh Saheb Singh’s statement that people of Shaheen Bagh will rape women, the Election Commission acted swiftly and ordered a temporary ban on the BJP’s star campaigners. However, I find it puzzling that while it found them guilty and violative of the Model Code of Conduct, the EC did not take any action under the criminal justice system.

The Election Commission should have booked both Thakur and Singh under Section 153 of the Indian Penal Code, which punishes “wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot—if rioting be committed or if not committed”, and also under Section 123 (3A) of the Representation of the People Act, which says: “The promotion of, or attempt to promote, feelings of enmity or hatred between different classes of the citizens of India on grounds of religion, race, caste, community, or language….for the furtherance of the prospects of the election of that candidate or for prejudicially affecting the election of any candidate…”

It is normal practice for the EC to both take action under the MCC and file an FIR. The only difference between the two is that action violative of the Model Code of Conduct is taken instantly, while an FIR takes time. I, therefore, wonder why no action was taken by the poll body in this regard.

The Election Commission has acted extremely effectively under the MCC, and I would expect the same when it comes to filing an FIR.

The EC is not losing control, but it needs to be more assertive during Delhi election

HS Brahma
Former chief election commissioner

One needs to understand that the recent incidents of shooting in Delhi and hate speech by politicians are two different things. The shootings are a purely criminal matter and, therefore, the Election Commission cannot be questioned for inaction. It is the duty of the local police to ensure that such incidents do not take place and the overall law and order is maintained. The Shaheen Bagh firing and the other two shootings are unfortunate and shouldn’t have taken place.

However, on the recent speeches by politicians in their Delhi assembly election rallies, I will admit that the Election Commission needs to be a lot firmer. I will not say that the EC is losing control, but it needs to be more assertive. The rules are very clear regarding what behaviour violates the Model Code of Conduct, which is a set of guidelines issued by the poll body for the conduct of political parties and their candidates during elections with respect to speeches, polling day, polling booths, portfolios, election manifestos, processions, etc. So, the EC must take appropriate action against any politician who makes hate speech.

Also read: No more riots. In Modi and Amit Shah’s new India shooters are becoming the norm

It is Election Commission’s duty to restore confidence in the electorate and conduct peaceful elections

V. S. Sampath
Former chief election commissioner

As a former chief election commissioner, what I can definitively say is that this is not the first time that elections are being held in a heightened atmosphere. In situations like those of shootings and hate speech, quick action is required from a watchdog like the Election Commission.

However, what must be understood is that irrespective of what action is taken, the EC will always be criticised. On questions of whether the poll body should have taken action or should not have taken action, the EC will always be on the public’s radar. So, it is unjust to pass an unfair judgement on the Election Commission.

It does not matter whether the poll body takes action within a few hours or on the same day of an incident. What matters is that whenever someone crosses the limit, the Election Commission should come down heavily on him or her and set an example.

It is evident with the Election Commission’s recent actions that they are cracking down on a few politicians for their hate speech.

Once an election process begins, there is no limitation to the Election Commission’s powers. It has the power to transfer any person or functionary who is found violating rules that are hindering the election process and are against the Model Code of Conduct.

Election Commission taking strict action after every violation. But it can’t act against unverified incidents

OP Rawat
Former chief election commissioner

It would be incorrect to say that the Election Commission is losing its authority with respect to Delhi assembly election. One must understand that elections in India are usually politically disorderly. If opponents feel that they have even the slightest chance of victory, then they fight tooth and nail. And in most cases, the hate generated during election campaigning makes political parties and politicians cross the line.

One must note that the Election Commission is taking strict action after every violation and every transgression is being called out. The EC takes action when someone lodges an official complaint or when there is verified news about some incident. It cannot act against someone or something that it knows about only in a personal capacity.

I was recently in Delhi on 31 January and 1 February, and saw that the EC was acting promptly and efficiently. The three shooting incidents that have taken place in the last four days are reflective of the fact that this Delhi assembly election is a very contentious one. And the EC has taken the necessary steps to ensure that the election atmosphere in the national capital is peaceful.

By Revathi Krishnan, journalist at ThePrint

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  1. The EC loses its voice and the authority when the offenders are from the current ruling party and becomes a Tiger against the Opposition parties. When everybody else sees the Prime Minister and Home Minister have broken the Moral Code of Conduct, the EC behaves in a pusillanimous manner and first sits over the complaint and begins to defend the two Netas of BJP even when the Third member of EC differs. from the CEC

  2. Partisan Querishi found everything fine with rigged elections of Pakistan and doesn’t hesitate to blame EC-these are anti-nationals behind Shaheen bagh that have been exposed.

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