Kudos to EC

Kudos to EC

As a long and gruelling Lok Sabha campaign came to an end and polling has been completed all over the country, the remarkable feature that would stand out is the high voter turnout.

The polling percentage of 66.38 is the highest in history, much more than the 58 per cent of 2009 and more than the record 64 per cent of the 1984 elections. The Election Commission deserves praise for its special campaign to make voters realise the value of their votes. One reason for the record polling may be the enlisting of almost 10 crore new voters, a large number of whom have taken their right seriously. The active mobilisation efforts of political parties were another factor. The social media also had a role in stirring enthusiasm. Overall the high turnout may be taken as a sign of heightened awareness of the people and a greater desire to participate in the functioning of the world’s largest democracy.

This should also increase the sense of responsibility on the part of political parties, both winners and losers, to the people.

The Election Commission also deserves praise for the generally faultless and thorough preparations it made and  for the safe and satisfactory conduct of polling. In elections of such a large scale, the odd mishap and mistake is possible,  but they do not in any way detract from the great accomplishment. Violence was low and complaints of malpractices were  few. Greater care could have been taken to ensure that names of eligible citizens were not missing from the rolls. Towards the end of the campaign there was the unfortunate case of the commission’s impartiality being questioned by the major national opposition party and its leader. Whether there was a lapse on the part of the commission or not, the party certainly overreacted to it. It is now clear that some of the problems which came up were because of the very long poll schedule. Campaigns are stressful and parties and leaders lose their sense of good conduct over a long period. The deterioration of the campaign from issues of governance to religion, caste and personality-based issues showed this.

Now it is the time of wait for the outcome. Exit polls have predicted an impressive improvement in the performance of the NDA, led by the BJP, and major losses for the UPA. The results can prove the predictions right or wrong. But the country could only be proud of its electoral experience.