Now CPI joins Congress, TMC, CPI(M) in opposing EC’s decision to extend postal ballot to more categories
In a letter to Chief Election Commissioner, CPI General Secretary D Raja argued the decision made ahead of assembly elections in Bihar will jeopardise democratic process of free and fair elections
Upping the ante on the Election Commission's decision to allow postal voting for those above 65 years of age, the CPI on Monday followed the Congress, CPI(M) and the TMC in registering its protest over the matter by writing to CEC Sunil Arora.
CPI General Secretary D Raja argued that the decision made ahead of assembly elections in Bihar will jeopardise the democratic process of free and fair elections.
In a letter to the Chief Election Commissioner, Raja urged him to have a wider and transparent consultation on digital propaganda during election campaigns and postal ballot for those aged 65 or above.
These two proposals, if accepted, will definitely jeopardise the democratic process of free and fair elections. Our party CPI - urges upon the ECI not to proceed unilaterally to implement these proposals which are bound to have a disastrous impact on our system, Raja said.
I, therefore, request you on behalf of my party to initiate wider and transparent consultations with all political parties. I sincerely hope that you will give positive consideration to our views in the interests of our nation and its future, he said in his letter.
He further said that the digital propaganda during the election campaign will be extremely expensive and deprive political parties of a level-playing field.
It was CPI (M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury who was the first to flag the issues related to the changes with the Congress then filing a petition with the commission, asking it to reconsider the decision.
The Trinamool Congress (TMC) too wrote to the commission stating that the move is arbitrary, mala fide, unconstitutional and ex-facie, a violation of secrecy of vote, right to free and fair elections and right to health.
Our party is of the opinion that this amendment, issued without adequate consultation with the political parties, is antithetical to a robust and inclusive democracy, the party said in its letter.
In response to the CPI(M)'s criticism that the move was made without consulting political parties, the commission said that it was an extraordinary situation brought about by the pandemic and it was imperative to minimise the exposure of people to the virus and yet not deprive them of their voting rights.
It also clarified that meetings with political parties in poll-bound Bihar had been conducted before the decision was taken.
The Centre had recently notified amendments in the election rules to extend the facility of postal ballot to voters above 65 years of age and to those who are suffering from the viral infection.
The Ministry of Law and Justice notified the Conduct of Elections (Amendment) Rules 2020, which will make the extension of the postal ballot facility in the upcoming assembly elections in Bihar.