Kerala is now witnessing a disturbing trend of top leaders in committing electoral offences. The Election Commission on Wednesday censured CPI (M) MLA and former Mayor of Thiruvananthapuram V. Sivankutty for abusing and threatening a woman executive magistrate overseeing election expenditure in Nemon constituency. The officer was also prevented from discharge of her duty. (Some newspapers suppressed this incident.)
The Commission is examining the complaint that Chief Minister V. S. Achuthanandan had vilified his opponent Lathika Subhash in Malampuzha constituency. If the charge is upheld, it is a corrupt practice under the Section 123(4) of the Representation of People Act.
Earlier, the Election authorities had seized posters printed in violation of the election rules and sealed a printing press in Trivandrum. Those involved in the electoral offences included candidates from the UDF, LDF as well as the BJP. The prominent among them were Minister for Food and Civil Supplies C. Divakaran (CPI) and former Union Minister of State O. Rajagopal (BJP). Elections rules require the name of the press and exact copies printed to be stated on the poster.
Even before the election notification came, the BJP candidate in Palakkad Udaya Baskhar had come under criticism for his presence at function organised for distribution of sarees to the poor.
Measures taken by the Election Commission is having some salutary effect in checking expenditure. However, stronger action is called for to check various electoral offences. Candidates are encouraged to break the law, because there is little follow up action once the elections are over.