Monday, November 12, 2012

Election Commission to CAG

Once upon a time in India there was a Chief Election Commissioner. The name of the man was a certain, T.N.Seshan. T.N.Seshan was the man who took on politicians - left, right and center. He was a hero. A one man army, who took on the might of the collective politicians and won.

During his tenure, he successfully tackled many electoral malpractices. He was the one with the vision of having a voter id card for every citizen. In particular, he was one person who used the office and the position and tested its constitutional limits successfully.

As you might imagine, the then government did quite take kindly to this activism and sought to curtail his powers by appointing a three member body - two commissioners in addition to the Chief - so that all decisions can be taken by voting.

On the face of it, this is a great idea. However, once the government appoints two lackeys, the power of the Chief Commissioner who wants to implement the rules is curtailed because the two lackeys will always toe the government line.

History is in the process of being repeated. The CAG today, Vinod Rai is the equivalent of T.N.Seshan. He, like Seshan, has been villified by many a politician of the ruling combine - all for doing his duty fairly and criticising the government for doing the wrong things.

Yesterday, someone from the PMO blurted the intention of slowly making the CAG into a toothless tiger by this process.

There is nothing surprising about this. Congress has perfected the art of slowly diluting institutions. Be it appointing seasoned politicians in the office of governors (note Karnataka and Gujarat today), by appointing family retainers in key positions in the election commission - which are some of the more prominent examples, the Congress is slowly, but surely seeking to curtail any criticism of its scam ridden tenure.

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