NEW DELHI, March 8 (IANS): With the assembly polls successfully completed to five states, including the all-important Uttar Pradesh, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) S.Y. Quraishi has defended the reprimanding of Law Minister Salman Khurshid for his Muslim quota remarks, saying it was required to uphold the dignity of the poll panel.
"The reprimand had to be there to protect the dignity of the election commission," Quraishi told IANS in an interview here.
"Salman is a good friend. But, when we are holding offices as such, our first loyalty is to our work. As law minister, Salman is the custodian of law, but went around talking about reservation," the CEC said.
Khurshid was reprimanded by the EC after he talked of nine percent job quota for Muslims during campaigning for the Uttar Pradesh state assembly elections, results for which were out Tuesday.
Asked if the EC had powers to debar politicians and ministers like Salman Khurshid, Beni Prasad Verma and Sriprakash Jaiswal from participating in poll campaign if they violated election laws instead of just warning them, Quraishi said EC commanded such moral power that "a warning will have a lifelong impact" on such leaders and they would not dare repeat their mistakes again.
Jaiswal had, during the campaign, stated that the Centre would have no other option but to impose President's rule in Uttar Pradesh if there was a hung assembly.
"Well, Varun Gandhi (BJP Pilibhit MP) who was reprimanded for his communal speech and has not done it again," he added.
To another question on accountability of elected representatives, Quraishi said it would be interesting to check midterm what the voters thought of their member of parliament or legislative assembly by holding an assessment poll, say two years after the general elections.
"If their performance is found unsatisfactory or not within set parameters, their seat should go to the candidate who came second in the general election. This way, there won't be any corruption," he said.
"Of course, it would be interesting to assess the accountability report card of the elected candidate after say two years," he added.
Asked for his opinion on exit polls, Quraishi said for him it sounded like a "comical term" and exit polls should make an exit in no time.
"Of course, as entertainment, these make a good pastime. The EC had banned exit polls till March 3, when the final round of voting took place. However, I have a feeling that in the interest of democratic paradigm, such calculations must not be allowed, no matter how on target these might be," he added.