GUWAHATI, May 20 - Assam should be an example for the rest of the country because of peaceful elections and high turnout of voters, said former Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) HS Brahma. He also said that the people of Assam proved before the entire country that they have high regard for democratic values.
Talking to The Assam Tribune after the conclusion of the seven-phase Lok Sabha elections, Brahma said, �as the son of the soil, I am very happy that the people of Assam came out in large numbers to cast their votes and the election was by and large peaceful.� It may be mentioned here that more than 80 per cent of the voters of the State exercised their franchise in the recently concluded Lok Sabha polls and the entire poll process was quite peaceful compared to some other states of the country.
Brahma said that the peaceful polls and high turnout of voters proved beyond doubt that the people of the State have commitment towards upholding the democratic values and the awareness among the people is much higher than some other states. The high turnout of voters also proved that the people of Assam are in favour of peace and development, he added. He said that at one point of time, the State witnessed disturbance during elections, mainly due to activities of militants, but the situation has now changed and even the 2014 elections were by and large peaceful in the State. However, at the same time, he expressed the view that in future all political parties should be more careful in choosing their candidates and only persons who can deliver the goods for the benefit of all sections of people should be selected.
The former CEC admitted that some people from other parts of the country consider Assam as a backward state. �But we have proved that we are not backward. The people of Assam proved that they are more aware of the democratic values than people from some other states. In fact, people from other parts of the country should learn from Assam about upholding democracy,� he added. He also said that Assam is not a backward state as the GDP of the State was higher than the national average after Independence. But the transport bottleneck has now become a problem for the State and the Government of India should look into the matter.
Commenting on large-scale violence during the polls in some states including West Bengal, Brahma said that the Election Commission should have taken a tough stand right from the beginning of the poll process. It is unfortunate that some states saw large-scale violence during the polls and strict action by the Election Commission was required to deal with the issue. There were large-scale violation of the model code of conduct in some states and strict measures were required to deal with the same, he added.
The former CEC also expressed the view that the seven-phase election lasting more than a month was too long for a country like India and in future, the Election Commission should evolve a plan to reduce the time frame for conducting the polls.