Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Some called it “foolhardy”: CEC on Bihar polls amid Covid


New Delhi, November 18: When the Election Commission began preparing for the Bihar assembly election amid the coronavirus pandemic, some felt it was being “fool-hardy”, but the safe and successful conduct of the massive democratic exercise has given us appreciation, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said on Wednesday.

Arora also said he is confident that the poll body will be able to hold the next set of assembly polls on time and the internal exercise for those is already underway.
Elections are due in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Assam and Puducherry in May-June next year.
He said the EC was made to feel like it had done a “dussahas” (misadventure) by holding the Bihar election amid the pandemic, but it was “a leap of faith and not a leap in the dark” for everyone in the Commission.
“When you use the term leap of faith, you don’t use it as some kind of a dramatic dialogue. A lot of preparation had undergone behind it. In any election, we work as hard as required. But in this kind of elections amid COVID-19, this became a more herculean and challenging task,” Mr Arora told news agency PTI in an interview.
Asked whether the Commission has proved those questioning the decision to hold polls wrong, Arora said he won’t say that.
“It is for the media, people of the country, voters, all relevant stakeholders to say that. For me to say that we have proved them wrong would be a bit churlish,” he said.
Recently, Arora had said there were “extreme cynics” who made “doomsday predictions”, but had not named them.
On Wednesday, he said, “They (cynics) did not do it on record. But there are ways in which you keep getting vibes of fool-hardy thing.”
The CEC did not respond to a question on allegations levelled by the opposition on the count of postal ballot saying the state chief electoral officer has already held a press conference giving a point-by-point reply.
“Speaking orders were issued by returning officers (on complaints at counting centres),” he said.
“This time, a major component as added to it — it should also be a safe election. Safe for the electors, safe for the polling officials, safe for all concerned. Maybe proving is not the right nuance. Yes, Election Commission can rise to any challenge and it did rise up to the challenge of COVID-19,” he added. (PTI)