Aug 17, 2002|
Three cheers for EC
Investors bought into equities over the past week, as the second phase of monsoons, which has seen better distribution, seems to have set in. To that extent fears of extensive drought were allayed. Supporting the positive sentiment was the global shift to equities with continuing firmness in U.S markets.
Digressing from stock markets. The week was marked by some positive developments. The state of Gujarat has been host to some high profile visitors over the past fortnight. The latest to visit the state was the newly elected President of India, A.P.J Abdul Kalam. As per reports, the President was escorted to the relief camps in and around Ahmedabad. With the President's vision for the country, his focus seemed more on the younger generation. But, also keeping true to the office, diplomacy could not be sidelined, as statements could destabilize governments.
On the other hand, the chief election commissioner castigated the Gujarat state administration for ineffectual handling of the communal riots. All free media has highlighted the gross incompetence of the state administration and possible support to the majority community in the recent events that rocked the state over March and April '02. Encouragingly, as per latest reports, despite political pressure, the Election Commission (EC) has denied the state government a chance of early elections for September - October '02.
We are encouraged by the decision, as there still exist effective institutions to protect the democratic system of the country. Being accused of partisan behaviour, the Gujarat State Government has not done much to re-build confidence among the people of Gujarat and the country, which has been highlighted in the EC report.
Post communal riots, the State Government dissolved the assembly guided by the likely thinking that, as per the constitution, a fresh assembly has to be re-elected within six months from dissolution. Fresh assembly elections in the state were due in early 2003. With early elections, the incumbent Government could leverage on emotions of the majority community to win a fresh mandate to rule the state. Further, the re-election could signal belief of the people in the incumbent state administration acquitting the Government of present allegations. In the scheme of things, the visit by President Kalam, immediately following visit by the EC, could be to suggest to the EC that all is hunky dory.
That said, the EC, and rightly, has stated that the State Government should rebuild and update the electoral roll and provide for a conducive environment to hold free and fair elections. After which, the commission will consider holding fresh elections. Also the additional time, will allow the electorate to make a more rational judgment. Other institutions that have been established to uphold the rights of the people can take cue from such developments. If one wishes to see, there is a lot to be proud about India.
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