Bureaucratic Endorsement of A Party By ECI: The Bihar Disaster

On 19th June, 2020 Justice NV Ramanna, Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Justice Krishna Murari in a case pertaining to Panchayat elections in the District of Prayagraj, observed that one of the fundamental principles of election law pertains to the maintenance of free and fair elections, ensuring purity of elections. This was Laxmi Singh & Ors. vs. Rekha Singh & Ors. where the issue pertained to the secrecy of ballot.

In Bihar elections we have seen how the election outcomes just turned opposite from the opinion polls that were predicting a major seat share for the Tejasvi Yadav led Mahagathbandhan but in turn it was revealed that despite the vote-share of the NDA going down, the NDA won a comfortable majority in the assembly elections!

The opinion polls test the mood of the people before and during the elections that serves as a litmus test and they are mostly not incorrect. But, Nitish Kumar had negative publicity, and the other alliance partners of the NDA are minor parties, while the BJP has actually done nothing very credible to deliver solace during the COVID-19 pandemic, and as per the poll manifesto, the NDA must have seen a landslide victory if there existed no anti-incumbency. This is all common sense.

But as RJD Leader Manoj Jha has been asserting that the local administration and the poll officers along with the ECI officers have some role to play behind the scenes, there is certainly some scenario where there is a probability that the election process is not completely free and fair. The Opposition parties today have no credible evidence to suggest that the poll process was rigged and the NDA would have lost, since there is absolute secrecy, but the fact that Ashok Lavasa was in trouble with the government and had some reservations about his future and certain information, is not ill-conceived.

There is resentment, and if the people vote in unison for Opposition parties, or the NOTA, then the BJP’s allegation will come to surface, but eventually, it means a lot of damage shall have been done by the time the truth is revealed!

Hence, it is this author’s firm belief that the Opposition must ramp up its game, and the BJP must play the game with a fair set of rules. 10th of November, 2020 is certainly a day that is a blow to the democratic credentials of the nation, and since this author cannot produce sufficient evidence to suggest that there is some endorsement of the BJP being done silently by our bureaucratic apparatus then, it has to stop from within the system.