Mumbai: Retired IPS officer Julio Ribeiro said on Wednesday that the Election Commission of India (ECI) does not command the same respect it did earlier.
The former Mumbai police commissioner is among 66 retired bureaucrats who wrote to the President expressing displeasure about the functioning of the ECI.
“I feel saddened that the Election Commission, an autonomous constitutional authority responsible for conducting elections, does not enjoy the respect which it did earlier,” he told a news agency.
Ribeiro, remembered for his role in containing Punjab insurgency in the 1980s, is among the prominent personalities in society who raised the issue of ‘intolerance‘ during the current tenure of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In 2015, Ribeiro had said he felt like a stranger in his own country after explaining how his ancestors became Christians under Portuguese occupation of Goa and the colonial power’s coercion.
Ribeiro had found support from another eminent Indian Christian Ashish Nandy.
Nandy appeared for an interview with leftist news website Scroll where he said, “I think it is an expression of pain. If a person such as Ribeiro feels so pained, then there is something drastically wrong in our culture of politics. He is, after all, one of the icons of the Indian state. ”
“The EC (once) had good reputation not only in India but also world-over for conducing elections in a free and fair manner,” he said.
“Political parties respected the Election Commission then. The situation is different now,” he said.
“The EC needs moral authority and should be straight-forward so as to conduct the (poll) process fearlessly,” he added.
Sixty-six former bureaucrats including Ribeiro wrote to President Ram Nath Kovind earlier this week expressing concern about the EC failing to deal with alleged cases of poll code violation, particularly those involving the BJP.
The instances cited by them included Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to the nation about the launch of India’s first anti-satellite weapon, the release of web-series Modi: A Common Man’s Journey, and the “lethargy” in respect of the EC’s action on the launch of the NaMo TV channel.