The way these state polls were held should leave us in dismay -Gilles Verniers
The BJP has done poorly against regional parties but the worst showing this election season was the Election Commission’s
Never has analyzing election results seemed an exercise so disconnected from reality. Since the number of daily covid cases exploded three weeks ago, the conditions that led to Sunday’s outcomes have profoundly altered.
Even before these elections became a pandemic spreading vector, this has been the most violent election season in recent times, particularly in West Bengal, where five voters died under Central Reserve Police Force fire in Cooch Behar, and where countless attacks were perpetrated against candidates from all major parties.
In Uttar Pradesh, where panchayat elections would have remained a discreet affair had they not been held during a pandemic surge, there have been almost daily reports of murders connected to the polls.
The Tamil Nadu polls showed that large-scale elections can be held within a short span of time, making the decision of holding the West Bengal election in eight phases even more inexplicable. It is now clear that hundreds, and probably thousands, of polling agents have been exposed to the virus while serving on election duty. Teachers, police officers and bureaucrats are dying under the watch of state institutions that even deny that such deaths are linked to polling. This has been the most violent election season since 1991, when over 100 people died in electoral violence, prompting the Election Commission of India (ECI) under T.N. Seshan to transform the way elections are secured.
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Livemint.com, 3 May, 2021, https://www.livemint.com/opinion/columns/the-way-these-state-polls-were-held-should-leave-us-in-dismay/amp-11619981513357.html?__twitter_impression=true