‘Vigilant’ EC brings in sweeping reforms in Elections 2019

The country's poll watchdog has launched C-VIGIL App to checkmate poll code violations and directed politicians to make voters aware about their criminal past

Bhubaneswar: Elections 2019 will be etched in capital letters in India’s electoral history as it has many innovative electoral reforms to its credit that could have far-reaching consequences on the electoral process of the world’s largest democracy.

Significantly, when there has been a murmur on the shortcomings in the poll process with regard to the access of criminals or vitiation of poll process via inducements, the Election Commission has readied safeguards to keep the country’s electoral process clean and transparent.

While announcing the election dates on Sunday, CEC Sunil Arora spelt out certain extensive reforms introduced for the first time in 2019 elections. Coming hard on politicians with criminal backgrounds, in a first, Election Commission (EC) has mandated candidates to publish the details of their cases registered under various provisions of IPC in the print and electronic media for at least three to four times from the day of nomination filed to the campaign period. Simultaneously, EC has also directed political parties to give details about the pending criminal cases against their candidates on the party websites.

To make the electoral process genuinely participative, the EC has launched a new app called C-VIGIL which will keep a check on violation of Model Code of Conduct (MCC) by political parties or candidates. Voters can directly inform through mobile or video messages to the EC via the App.  C-VIGIL is prompt enough to initiate action against complaints within 100 minutes, informed Arora.

In sync with the drive against black money, EC has also made it mandatory for the candidates to file on an affidavit detailing the IT returns filed during the last five years, besides details of immovable and movable properties, investments in foreign currencies etc. The significant fact is any discrepancies noted could lead to rejection of nomination.

Stressing on transparency, the EC has declared that any inconsistency in the mandatory affidavit filed along with the Form – 26 that directs candidates to give minute personal details on education, spouse and family members could warrant rejection of the nomination.

Recognising the role of wide spread use of social media in elections 2019, the EC has directed all candidates to provide details of their social media accounts during filing of nomination. More so, candidates could upload any political content on social media with a prior permission of EC only. The EC has also set a poll expense limit of Rs 70 lakh per Lok Sabha candidate and Rs 28 lakh per State Assembly candidate.

Administrators and political observers have welcomed the transformative initiatives taken by EC for free and transparent 2019 elections.