Advani lauds EC for scrapping Jharkhand RS polls

BJP leader LK Advani on Sunday praised the Election Commission`s "landmark" decision to cancel Jharkhand Rajya Sabha polls.

New Delhi: BJP leader LK Advani on Sunday praised the Election Commission`s "landmark" decision to cancel Jharkhand Rajya Sabha polls and said the move would go a long way in preventing moneybags with no political support from jumping into poll fray.

Advani also sought to refocus on an NDA amendment in The Representation of the People Act in 2003 to make Rajya Sabha poll more open and said the EC decision together with its amendment would ensure that money power would no longer matter in polling to the Council of States.

"I think the Election Commission deserves special compliments for the order it has issued," Advani wrote on his blog today, while giving kudos to Chief Election Commissioner SY Quraishi for scrapping this year`s Rajya Sabha elections in Jharkhand.

He said, "I hold that today’s decision of the Election Commissioner based on reasonably credible apprehensions is a landmark decision. Together with the NDA amendment of 2003, and today`s precedent, moneybags with no political support would think thousand times before jumping into the fray."

The BJP leader also cited electoral reforms and clean elections in Britain where Parliament seats "were once sold" and said "history of electoral reforms in Britain should help dispel the general cynicism prevalent in India that there is no real remedy for the growing influence of money power in elections".

Advani`s compliments to EC come despite Jharkhand BJP`s criticism of the poll body questioning it for being "overactive this time". BJP`s Jharkhand affairs in-charge, Harendra Pratap Singh had said that EC "should not work under pressure from the Congress".

"EC is overactive this time. Where was it on previous occasions when there was horse-trading by independents to get into the upper house?" Singh said in Ranchi yesterday.

Expressing concern over the affluent making their way into
the Council of States by luring MLAs with their money power,
Advani said "those concerned with the purity of elections have
always felt distressed that affluent candidates who file their
nominations for the Rajya Sabha without any evident support of
the requisite number of MLAs to secure their victory often
manage somehow to squeeze their way into the House or have a
pawn elected by buying up MLAs."

Advani wrote on his blog today that this is the first time
in the history of Indian elections in any state that the
polling to the Rajya Sabha in that state has been halted
midway by the Election Commission itself, even before the
votes have been fully counted.

He said EC acted swiftly before the election process got
completed as otherwise the issue would have gone out of its

"In this election the polling had been completed. Only
Counting of Votes remained to be done, and the results
announced. If that had been completed, the outcome could have
been challenged only by an election petition. The matter would
have thus gone outside the jurisdiction of the Election
Commission, into the arena of the Judiciary!," he wrote.

Rejecting criticism on countermanding of Rajya Sabha
polls in Jharkhand, the Chief Election Commissioner had hoped
it will work as a deterrent against use of money power in

"We acted on complaints about use of money power in Rajya
Sabha polls in Jharkhand and there was actionable evidence. We
hope it (our action) works as a lesson and deterrent for
political parties and their leaders not to indulge in such
activities," Quraishi said yesterday.