Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader L K 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 National Democratic Alliance 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 S Y 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 o 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 on Saturday.
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 domain.
"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 elections.
"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 told PTI on Saturday.