In the last few years, the regional parties have consistently questioned the Election Commission and Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs). From the losing ones like Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) to winners like TMC, all try to malign the image of the Election Commission of India and accuse the body of partisanship.
The regional parties like RJD, TMC, SP and BSP often slam the Election Commission because given the efficiency of the body, the elections are conducted in a free and fair manner and practices like booth capturing and political violence no longer happen during the elections.
For decades, regional parties like SP and BSP in Uttar Pradesh, RJD in Bihar, and Communist parties in West Bengal were allegedly dependent on practices like capturing polling booths and ballot boxes in order to win the elections. However, since the legendary election commissioner T N Seshan reformed the electoral process in India, the elections are increasingly becoming a free and fair process even in rural areas, where these incidents mostly used to take place.
With generous help from paramilitary forces, the Election Commission can now conduct fair elections and with upgradation in technology, the process has become even smoother than in developed countries like the United States.
The chaos in the recent American Presidential Elections that led to the siege of Capitol Hill, the house of the American Parliament, is an example of how an unfair process can lead to resentment and feeling of being betrayed among the common people. At that time, the Indians across the political spectrum and organisations around the world were singing laurels of the Election Commission of India for conducting the whole process smoothly.
However, as the election in five assembly constituencies started, the left-liberal media establishment and the opposition parties started questioning the globally reputed body once again. Especially in West Bengal, where the Election Commission decided to conduct the assembly election in multiple phases despite a five-decade-long history of political violence, the body was repeatedly questioned.
TMC leaders like Derek O’Brian, whose party won simply because the Election Commission conducted a free and fair election, accused the body of being an extension of BJP and asked all parties to come together to ‘reform’ it. “The EC is a department of the BJP! Bias is too mild a word for them. All the political parties need to look at this and we need to protect this institution. We cannot have three retired officers to run the elections of India in this manner. We will get all the parties together demanding reforms in the functioning of EC. We need to do this for our democracy. The current situation can’t be allowed to prevail, it is very dangerous for our Republic,” said Derek.
Regional parties like RJD have repeatedly demanded that the Election Commission should go back to paper balloting instead of using electronic voting machines so that it becomes easy for them to carry out activities like booth capturing. The ‘reform’ in the election commission is seemingly being demanded to take the electoral process back to an era when the regional parties used practices like booth capturing, using political violence to scare the voters to vote for a particular party and so on to win the elections.