Elections fraught with irregularities
It sets a dangerous precedent in a country when we come to expect and accept incidents of violence and irregularities as an inevitable part of the electoral process. We are disappointed, to say the least, by the reports of electoral irregularities, including ballot stuffing and taking forceful occupation of polling stations mostly by ruling party men, in the third phase of UP polls on Saturday. At least one person died in Pabna and more than 200 were injured in 10 districts, including 11 journalists and four policemen. While it has been reported that the extent of violence in this phase was much lower than that of the previous two phases – 40 people were killed and several hundred injured – it should give us no cause for complacency or comfort.
There should an absolute standard for some things against which we measure their success or failure, and, in a democracy, nothing is as sacrosanct as the elections. To compare an election fraught with irregularities with the previous two elections – considered dubious by most reckoning – and patting ourselves on the back for having done "better" does little to boost people's confidence in the electoral process. We must not accept anything less than free and fair elections if we are to continue to take pride in our democracy. Needless to say, the more an election is marred with questions, the more democracy is hurt.
We are constrained to say that the EC has been unable to ensure fairness and sanctity of the polls. We wonder why it has not learnt the lessons from the previous two phases and taken adequate steps to put a stop to the violence, fraud and vote rigging.