‘People thought EC was being ‘fool-hardy’ by holding Bihar polls, but we lived up to challenge’
NEW DELHI :
WHEN the Election Commission began preparing for Bihar Assembly polls amid the coronavirus pandemic, some felt it was being “fool-hardy”, but the safe and successful conduct of this massive democratic exercise has given us an across-the-board appreciation, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said on Wednesday. Arora also said he is confident that the EC will be able to hold the next set of Assembly polls on time and the internal exercise for those is already underway.
Elections are due in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Assam and Puducherry in May-June next year. He said the EC was made to feel like it had done a “dussahas” (misadventure) by holding the Bihar election amid the pandemic, but it was “a leap of faith and not a leap in the dark” for everyone in the Commission. “When you use the term leap of faith, you don’t use it as some kind of a dramatic dialogue. A lot of preparation had undergone behind it. In any election, we work as hard as required. But in this kind of elections amid COVID-19, this became a more herculean and challenging task” Arora told PTI in an interview.
Asked whether the Commission has proved those questioning the decision to hold polls wrong, Arora said he won’t say that. “It is for the media, people of the country, voters, all relevant stakeholders to say that. For me to say that we have proved them wrong would be a bit churlish,” he said. Recently, Arora had said there were “extreme cynics” who made “doomsday predictions”, but had not named them. On Wednesday, he said, “They (cynics) did not do it on record. But there are ways in which you keep getting vibes of fool-hardy thing.”
The CEC did not respond to a question on allegations levelled by the Opposition on the count of postal ballot saying the State chief electoral officer has already held a press conference giving a point-by-point reply. “Speaking orders were issued by returning officers (on complaints at counting centres),” he said. Asked what the EC proved by holding polls in Bihar amid the health emergency, he said the poll panel per se did not have to prove anything as it was a job under the Constitution to conduct free, fair and robust elections.