On VVPATs, Election Body Chief’s Logic Involves A “Blood Test”

New Delhi: 

The Election Commission, which has been accused by the opposition of being soft on leaders of the ruling BJP who violate the Model Code of Conduct, has denied the allegation. 

Asked about the opposition comment that the Election Commission has become a “branch of BJP office”, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora told NDTV today that he “would not like to comment on the utterances of senior leaders of the country”.

Hours before the EC acted against UP Chief Minister Adityanath and BSP Chief Mayawati , the CEC indicates action against both. 

Mr Arora said the commission has received another transcript on Yogi Adityanath — the “Ali-Bajrang Bali comment, which was said in response to other leader’s comment”. The commission, he said, would take a call on the matter tomorrow. 

Regarding allegations that the Commission doesn’t take strong action, he said, “I don’t think even sending an advisory to a person, who is the Chief Minister of the biggest state, that too in black and white, that is a slap on the wrist”.

Over the last weeks, allegations of soft-pedalling by the Commission have been increasing in proportion with the provocative remarks by political leaders in the run-up to the election.

While the Commission has sent notices to a few leaders, including Yogi Adityanath and Mayawati, last week, it strongly criticised differential airtime on television channels for different political parties.

Days later, the Commission stopped the release of a biopic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi starring Vivek Oberoi and then stopped the airing of political content by NaMo tv — a 24-hour channel exclusively featuring PM Modi’s speeches and pro-BJP content.

The Commission, Mr Arora said, tries to ensure a “complete, level playing field” as much as possible.

“You keep on doing your job sincerely as per the Constitution and the preamble… in a standard, understated way… it has just gone out of fashion these days,” he said.

Today, the Election Commission barred Yogi Adityanath from campaigning for the next three days over his communal remarks. Mayawati got a lighter sentence – a similar bar but for two days.

Asked about the Commission’s plans regarding the opposition demand of having 50 per cent VVPAT (Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail) machines, Mr Arora said it was the Supreme Court’s decision that “instead of one, five VVPATs should be counted, selected randomly”.

“If you have to take the blood test of a patient, you take from one place or 20 places? It is very sad what we are doing, if I am allowed to say,” he said. If the opposition goes to court again, the Commission would submit its views again, if asked, he added.

Get the latest election news, live updates and election schedule for Lok Sabha Elections 2019 on ndtv.com/elections. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram for updates from each of the 543 parliamentary seats for the 2019 Indian general elections.


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