Credible election; ball lies in EC’s court
Ali Ahmed
04 Nov,2017

The dialogue, taken up by the election commission pertaining to the eleventh national election, has come to an end recently. Various political parties, members of the civil society, the media and election experts participated in the dialogue. They provided the election commission with all sorts of proposals and recommendations to make the election free, fair, credible and participatory. It is now up to the election commission to select the pertinent recommendations.

Certainly not all the recommendations made during the dialogue are appropriate or acceptable. A total of 40 political parties took part in the dialogue. The parties are all election-oriented and vying for power, and so their suggestions have been made to suit their respective political interests and in some cases have been contradictory. The objective of the election commission is different. Election Commission is a constitutional body. It is not to place any particular party in power or to thwart any other. Its aim is to ensure a free and credible election for all.

Whether to deploy the army during the election or not, was a question that featured prominently during the dialogue. Then there are also differences among the political parties concerning an election-time government. The various parties also put forward differing opinions as to whether the parliament should be dissolved before the election or not. One party suggested said that there shouldn’t be any requirement for the candidates to submit their affidavits for nomination. The election experts put forward an important recommendation for the returning officers to be appointed from the election commission.

Now the election commission has to decide on what factors need to be ensured to hold the election. It must bear in mind that the word ‘election’ means a free, fair, credible and participatory election. The commission must do whatever needs to be done to hold such an election. There are some factors that are within the commission’s jurisdiction and some that are not. But that does not mean the commission’s responsibility ends there.

If the election commission feels there are some matters which are essential for the election to be held properly, then they can approach the government and request them to ensure these matters. The constitution holds that the government will extend all cooperation to the election commission to hold the election in an effective manner. The commission can take a firm stance if the government fails to comply.

We hope that the election commission takes into cognizance the various ideas generated during the dialogue and holds the election accordingly. But before everything, the main challenge of the commission is to gain confidence of all the parties to make the election participatory. Earlier, in 2014 election, the then election commission failed to bring all parties in the election process which resulted a one party election, failed to attain acceptance. But this time, the countrymen expect to see something different. They want to see an end to the ongoing political stalemate and a participatory poll could be the only solution. The ball now lies in the commission’s court.