Lok Sabha Polls
Now that the Chief Election Commission (CEC) of India has announced the dates for holding of general election, all political parties in the country are fully geared up for the massive democratic exercise on the earth. But some major political parties in Jammu and Kashmir are upset, and genuinely so, as the CEC has not given a nod to conduct of state assembly election along with the one for Lok Sabha. The political parties are genuine in voicing their concerns as J&K is reeling under Centre’s direct rule from November last year and therefore these parties were keen to see a popular government in the office as soon as possible. It goes without saying that in democracies, Governer or President’s rule, no matter how efficient it may be, can never be a substitute to democratically elected popular governments. On its part, the CEC has cited security reasons for not conducting the polls simultaneously, an alibi which is strongly being disputed by these political parties.
That said, the entire country is all set to witness a massive electoral battle from April 11. As the model code of conduct has come into force and CEC has already issued directions regarding Do’s and Don’ts and barred political parties from using photographs of soldiers in their respective campaigns, it is expected that the political parties behave responsibly. India is a huge country with different languages, religions and cultures and therefore the CEC, while holding this mega exercise, will have to ensure that political campaigns are not turned into campaigns of hate dividing people and pitching them against each other on communal or sectarian lines. The political campaigners themselves have to ensure that instead of inciting people against each other, they focus on their own respective political, social and economic agendas and make this democratic process an inclusive one.
Elections are the beauty of democracy wherein the beggar and the billionaire; the commoner and the elite – all get an opportunity and power to decide whom they choose to run the affairs of the state. As the Chief Election Commissioner, in his press conference on Sunday, rightly said that CEC will ensure free, fair, inclusive and a festive election, the political parties have to safeguard the festive spirit of the process. And this festive spirit can be safeguarded by avoiding actions and acts that have the potential to turn things on the ground ugly. Asking for the votes in the name of religion, caste, creed sounds obnoxious in a country where more than 22 per cent of the population still lives below poverty line; where farmers are still committing suicides in distress; where tribals are still having no easy access to pure drinking water, health care, surface communication or education. In this backdrop, the campaigning political parties will do good to themselves, to the democracy and to the nation if they avoid confrontational and hateful campaigns and solely concentrate on bigger issues that are confronting the populace. CEC is a worldly acclaimed institute of repute and therefore the citizenry would be looking towards it to curb any and every campaign that violates any of its laid down directions.