Effective monitoring inevitable for a purposeful election
Notwithstanding varied dos and don’ts notified for the political organisations and their agents by the Election Commission of India in connection with the ensuing assembly polls, these restrictions are unlikely to be fully honoured in Manipur, where the trend of candidates sponsoring feasts to lure the voters or handing them crisp notes in exchange of their votes had been rampant for the past many elections. Announcing a slew of measures in order to make elections a free and fair affair seem to have been reduced to a mere formality in Manipur, which is not only minuscule in terms of geographical size but is also rather politically insignificant from the national perspective, if one takes into account of the fact that there were no official report of the election authority ever pulling up and punishing the political organisations or individual candidates in connection with violation of the election code of conduct. Elections are conducted to enable the adult franchisees choose the right representatives to the state assemblies and parliament, so that the elected persons work for the overall development of the state or country, in general, and the constituency he/she represents, in particular. In sharp contrast to the enviable principles of the Indian democracy, which encompasses granting the people the right to elect the right persons, the democratic exercise in this tiny state has been literally transformed to a process of mortgaging constitutional rights of the citizens to the politicians for five years so that they could not only recover money spent in canvassing support but also amass personal wealth.
In-spite of widespread malpractices, elections can still be made purposeful and effective democratic exercise in the state in case guidelines issued by the Election Commission of India are strictly enforced or the political organisations religiously comply with all provisions of the election model code of conduct. The ECI is acknowledged as one of the important institutions on account of its pro-active role in micro-managing each election, never losing focus on details and attending to every aspect up to the last mile. Due to its transparent processes people have faith in the conduct of elections and as such effective implementation of the code of conduct will compel the politicians to think twice before they violate the prescribed norms. Having set up panels to monitor poll-related expenditure, video surveillance and accounting teams, media certification and monitoring committee, complaint monitoring control room/centre, flying squads, etc., the Chief Electoral Officer will undoubtedly be the most important person, who could enhance profile of the largest democratic process. Of all the panels, effectiveness of the flying squads would be vital in putting an end to the election-related malpractices for politicians too would be equally determined to deceive the election authority. Involving the local youth and women organisations for reforming the democratic exercise by using them as informants against rogue politicians may also be helpful in ensuring that only the deserving persons represent the people.