Bhubaneswar: The suspension of the general observer for searching Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s chopper has raised many questions on the independence of the poll body. People from many quarters have expressed anguish over the way an IAS officer has been removed for doing an act that tried to upheld democracy. The latest to join the issue is the former Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi. He has reacted to the issue sharply and said that the Election Commission has missed an opportunity to restore its image.
The former ECI chief has said that the suspension of an IAS officer for checking Prime Minister Narendra Modi's helicopter in Odisha is unfortunate. He termed it as a missed opportunity to restore not just the EC’s image but also PM Narendra Modi himself.
He is of the opinion that the raid on PM Modi’s chopper should have been used to demonstrate that the law is equal for everybody. In one stroke, the intense criticism against them both would have come crumbling down.
In his tweet, Quraishi has said that both the ECI and Narendra Modi are under public scanner. The Prime Minister has repeatedly violated the model code and the Election Commission repeatedly overlooked it.
PM’s chopper raid incident is a great opportunity missed ! Please see my views. pic.twitter.com/VqOjSVwfmK— Dr. S.Y. Quraishi (@DrSYQuraishi) April 18, 2019
Quraishi also lauded the action of the Chief Minister of Odisha Naveen Patnaik in his tweet. He said, because of his extremely dignified conduct during a similar raid on his chopper in front of his eyes, Naveen has come out with his stature enhanced. This is the statesman like conduct we need in our leaders, he wrote in his tweet.
On Wednesday night, the Election Commision of India had suspended IAS officer Mohammad Mohsin for checking Prime Minister Narendra Modi's helicopter in Odisha's Sambalpur. According to the ECI, it was an action in violation of the norms dealing with SPG protectees. The ECI order said Mohammad Mohsin was suspended for actions contrary to its instructions concerning those being protected by the Special Protection Group. The poll body took the action after the district collector gave a report to it on searching the helicopter.
The issue is not going to die down easily. Former union secretary E.A.S. Sarma has accused the Election Commission of not supporting the officer who performed his duty. He has said the action by the ECI is highly questionable response.
In aletter to the ECI, he said that “the Commission has invoked a strange rule that the election personnel should not inspect the vehicles of SPG-protected persons and resorted to finding fault with the concerned officer who had merely done his duty to make sure that no cash was being carried in the chopper.
In his letter, Sarma referred to the alleged violation of Model Code of Conduct (MCC) by Modi, BJP president Amit Shah and Rajasthan governor Kalyan Singh. “I am disappointed that the Commission has not responded in the matter. Inaction in the case of these three persons has already raised questions in the mind of the public about the impartiality of the Commission.”
The issue has become a subject of discussion in mainstream media and political circles. The congress has criticised the EC's action against Mohsin, a Karnataka cadre IAS officer, saying the rules cited by it to punish the bureaucrat do not exempt PM's vehicle from being searched.
"An official was suspended by ECI for doing his job of inspecting vehicles. The rule cited governs the use of official vehicles for campaigning. It does not exempt PM's vehicle from being searched," the party said in a tweet.
An official was suspended by ECI for doing his job of inspecting vehicles.— Congress (@INCIndia) April 18, 2019
The rule cited governs the use of official vehicles for campaigning. It 𝑫𝑶𝑬𝑺 𝑵𝑶𝑻 exempt PM's vehicle from being searched.
What is Modi carrying in the helicopter that he doesn't want India to see? pic.twitter.com/apDdhgSMJB
The Aam Aadmi Party was also also quick to react. In a tweet the party said "Suspension of the officer who checked PM's helicopter. The chowkidar lives in his own protected shell! Is the Chowkidar trying to hide something?"
The whole issue has once again raised questions on the independence of the Election Commission of India. While it is boasting of successful carrying out the election process, its visible partiality may endanger the democratic values of the country. The ramifications of the issue will be visible in the future.