Criminalisation of politics is the biggest challenge: EC

New Delhi, March 26: Criminalisation of politics is the biggest challenge facing the country today, Election Commissioner H.S. Brahma said here Wednesday.

He said India’s electorate is larger than the population of all of Europe. The country is one of the world’s most stable democracies, giving it a unique position in the world.

He was speaking at a session on “Managing Elections in India” at the CII National Conference and Annual Session: Managing Change: Role of Leadership and Institutions here March 26-27.

The other challenges facing the country in terms of governance include the growth of money power in the electoral process. According to Brahma, money power leads to an uneven playing field. He also highlighted the role of political parties in providing a boost to the governance process by selecting the right candidates.

The Election Commissioner highlighted the daunting task faced by the Commission in conducting the elections. He observed that in 1952, when the country organised its first elections, the size of the electorate was barely 170 million. This number has since grown almost five-fold to touch 825 million.

Polling stations are set up at altitudes ranging from sea level to 16,000 feet above sea level. Polling officials reach their destination using a wide variety of transportation, including on foot, on boats and on elephants. The officials face extreme weather conditions. Temperatures can range from -5°C to 47°C.

The Election Commissioner pointed out that the entire process is supervised by less than 4000 IAS/IPS officers despite being so complex and diverse. He stated that around 1 million polling officials will actually conduct the elections. Therefore the entire process is very lean and thin.

Brahma observed that the Election Commission needed to conduct the entire election process without a single mistake. This, according to him, is a critical factor in ensuring the quality of governance in the country. It was the duty of the Election Commission to conduct the election in a free, fair and transparent manner.

IANS