The Election Commission while barring former Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda from contesting elections for three years has said that a candidate with a mass-media oriented campaign can effectively polarise a decidedly large proportion of votes towards him.
The poll panel said that income tax reports and evidence gathered from the media had revealed that the election expenditure shown by Koda was much less than what was incurred. He had also failed to furnish the details in the right format.
Koda, who spoke to reporters in Singhbhum (West) district on Thursday, said he would move court against the poll panel’s order.
In their joint order, Chief Election Commissioner A K Joti and commissioner O P Rawat said: “Unfair elections strike at the root of a democracy. With a mass-media oriented campaign, any candidate can effectively polarise a decidedly large proportion of votes towards him. Undecided voters, instead of being able to decide on the candidate’s merit, fall victim to the bandwagon effect due to the illusion of mass support created by such a candidate.”
“It is unfortunate that voters are exploited by this show of money power and the ECI has to maintain the ethical responsibility of conducting free, fair and transparent elections,” they said.
It said that honest candidates should not be sidelined by those willing to contravene laws and “distort the lines of morality” for the sake of getting elected to Parliament or the state legislature.
Koda was elected in May 2009 as an Independent from the Singhbhum Lok Sabha seat. As stipulated, he filled up an election expense report by June 1, 2009. But the poll panel was not satisfied with it as it was not sent in the proper format and the claims were not supported by the vouchers.
In September 2010, Economic Times came out with a report, quoting I-T officials, that said Koda spent much more in the election than what he showed in his expenditure statement.