Politics News | Updated Jan 09, 2012 at 11:43pm IST
EC defends decison to cover Mayawati's statues
Rajdeep Sardesai, CNN-IBN
New Delhi: Election Commissioner VS Sampath on Monday brushed aside
criticism of the directive to cover statues of Bahujan Samaj Party
(BSP) leader Mayawati and the party symbol of elephant in poll-bound
Uttar Pradesh and said the decision was in accordance with the model
code of conduct.
In an exclusive interview, he spoke to IBN 18 Editor-in-Chief Rajdeep Sardesai.
Here is the full transcript of the interview:
Rajdeep Sardesai: Let's go straight across to Election Commissioner.
VS Sampath is joining us on a day when there are several questions to
be asked of the election commissions. Appreciate you are joining with
Let me come first to the big decision that you took over the weekend.
Your decision to ask UP Chief Minister Mayawati's statue and the
elephant symbol of the BSP to be covered, it met with the opposition
from the BSP. Some even calling it anti-dalit, your response why did
you decide to cover all the statues as well as the symbol of the BSP?
Is this anti dalit?
VS Sampath: This is done only to ensure level playing field and to
conduct free and fair election. Actually in this case we asked statues
to be covered but similar action was taken even during the conduct of
earlier general elections in 2009. Before Parliament elections the
photographs of even the Prime Minister who was seeking election in the
country, they were ordered to be removed but in 2004 again the
pictures of then Prime Minister are also ordered to be removed on
national highways under national project. So there is nothing new in
Rajdeep Sardesai: You are saying nothing new in this but the
Mayawati's supporters are saying that if the EC wants to cover
Mayawati's statues. Why don't you for examples cover the statues of
Nehru, Indira, Rajeev Gandhi because in Uttar Pradesh the Congress
appeal in the names of its former leaders as well.
VS Sampath: Again whatever instructions we have been giving in the
past as well as in the present all these only relate to their living
leaders. They do not relate to deceased leaders for example in this
case also. We have not ordered the veiling of Mr Kashi Ram's statues,
they have left untouched. So whatever policy commission is following
they are consistence.
Rajdeep Sardesai: But are you telling me sir, the voters that are free
and fair election will be prevented if Mayawati's statues are seen to
the voter. I mean they seem on the face of it, something strange and
incongruous about it. Are you saying that merely by seeing Mayawati's
statues or an elephant symbol, a free and fair election will prevented
VS Sampath : In a election there are occasions we have seen in
Rajasthan, a person who was leader of state party lost the election by
one vote. And by missing legislative assembly election by one vote, he
missed the becoming the chief minister of the state. So therefore we
cannot really underestimate the impact of statues etc even if they
impact a few voters. We don't know what would be the effect on the
Rajdeep Sardesai: I keep coming back to Mr Sampath Kumar, there will
be a feeling that the centre or the EC is discriminating against the
state parties benefiting the centre. Prakash Singh Badal has raised
this in Punjab, Mayawati is raising this now in Uttar Pradesh that the
EC is batting for the centre. That it is the Congress party that wants
Mayawati's status to be covered?
VS Sampath: There is absolutely no truth in this kind of allegations
like for example. Even a regional party which was the ruling party in
Tamil Nadu which was in coalition with central party, it also raised
the same allegation against us. So if the ruling party in the state is
affected by our decisions. I really don't think this kind of charge
can be made against us.
Rajdeep Sardesai: So there is no question of any rethink, as far as
you are concern there us no question of any rethink ,because some of
Mayawati's supporters are threatening to go to court on this. Are you
sure that this order of yours stands judicial scrutiny?
VS Sampath:So now that you have raised about the court, whatever
orders we have passed even in this case this was arising out of
litigation. Some people filed the petition before the Supreme Court,
in that they challenged and they also claimed that the party should be
derecognised and Mayawati should be disqualified. And that petition
was forwarded by the Supreme Court to election commission because it
involved sitting it judgment over the symbol and also
disqualification. We examined at that time and we found that those
claims were not sustainable but even in that order which was passed
after hearing all people consent including BSP. Commission recoded
there are very clear findings that measures will be taken to see that
the statues do not disturb the level playing fields and give undue
advantage to any political parties at the time of elections. So this
is only in pursuing of the subject.
Rajdeep Sardesai:Okay, so you are saying that the statue disturbed the
level playing fields and this is only applies to living figures, it
doesn't apply to some one who is dead like Kashi Ram, Rajeev Gandhi,
Jawaharlal Nehru, that what you are saying? You are making a
distinction between living personalities and those who passed away and
you believe that will stand scrutiny?
VS Sampath: Correct.
Rajdeep Sardesai: You don't think that there are doubles standards there?
VS Sampath: No it is not something stand that which were taken today.
This was the stand taken even as early in 2009 and also in 2004.
Rajdeep Sardesai:Sir, you have also removed the UP DGP and others key
officials, the other home secretary appointed by Mayawati. I come back
to it there is sense that EC is targeting Mayawati that
what'Mayawati's supporters are saying. Even the date scheduled all has
been done to suit the centre and his anti Mayawati?
VS Sampath: All that we can say is, we in our constitutional function
we are not influenced. We cannot be influenced by any one in
distorting our constitutional functions. In fact the transfer of the
DGP, it is not as if. We ordered it only in UP, in a week back we have
ordered the transfer of the DGP in Manipur also and you know which is
the ruling party in the Manipur. We have also ordered the transfer of
the DGP in Tamil Nadu and you know whose ruling party is in Tamil
Nadu. Absolutely there is no kind of biased in Election Commission,
looking at these things this is also part of normal exercise which we
do to ensure free and fair poll.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Mr Sampath Kumar we have also see in the last forty
eight hours. Large amount of cash being recovered in Uttar Pradesh in
particular, do you fear that despite all the measures you have adopted
money power remains the biggest challenge? That money power in the
Uttar Pradesh this time is the biggest challenge that you are going to
face and in Punjab indeed and indeed across these states that are
going to the polls money power is something you have been unable to
VS Sampath: I would not agree that we are unable to control money
power. One can always have some dispute about extend of control we are
able to make. As you know this is the continuous exercise, there are
some vacations when certain people claimed that for each money we
seized there is so much going unchecked. But we would like to state
that for each amount that we seized several times that amount gets
detect from going into circulation. We have able to do in it in a
reasonably efficient and effective manner but still as you know this
is the continuing afford we cannot say this is the point where we have
achieved 100 percentage result but we will continue. If it were not
for these efforts the effect of the money will be much worse.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Sir, let's ask today. It's snowing towards some
parts of Uttrakhand and interestingly even in Punjab. Will the EC
consider post polling elections in the snow falling areas particularly
Uttrakhand. Is that a possibility sir?
VS Sampath: We are made thorough exercise taken all factors including
seasonal conditions, snowfall etc in all the places including
Uttrakhand. However as per our information atleast going by historical
data of last few years, intensity of snow fall in the month of
February is much more then in January. Secondly we have also tried to
identify the polling stations which are likely to be badly affected in
the event of heavy snowfall; the number doesn't exceed five percent
during our last meeting.
Rajdeep Sardesai: No there is no further change in scheduled, you have
already changed the counting date. We expect no further change on
VS Sampath: No, however with regards to the snow bound areas though we
have made all arrangements including contigency plan. In the event of
any particular polling stations not being able to exercise the poll
during that period we would not hesitate to give them another
opportunity. So there is gap between date of poll and date of
Rajdeep Sardesai: Okay my final question sir what is the biggest
challenge Mr Sampath Kumar the election Commissioner is facing at this
time? You know in the past the in Uttar Pradesh candidates have
appealed on the grounds of cast. You been tough when candidates appeal
for votes on the ground of religion, in UP we fear that there are
regular appeals in the grounds of cast. Will you crack down, can we
expect the tougher election commission particularly in the state of
Uttar Pradesh, where elections are often fought on grounds of cast?
VS Sampath: Cast, actually we have very strong provisions in past as
well as in the model code to deal with the appeals of on the basis of
cast. One of the very stringent instruction we give to our enforce
machinery, is to keep very close watch. Even in the advertisement code
looks for any advertisement of cast in advertisement, in the past we
have been filing case where the cast elements is sort to be evoked.
All of the power available in the loss of the land will be certainly
evoked. We will continue our measures to ensure none of these factors
adversely affect the poll.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Okay Sampath Kumar the Election Commissioner
appreciate you joining us. You made it clear that you are sticking by
your decisions for Mayawati statue to be covered in this election and
you have also spoken on other issues. So there you have it your
election commission making it clear that they expect all of Mayawati's
statue and election symbol that is elephant to be covered in this
election and they believe they have judicial backing for that
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