The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Lyngdoh for laws to check ‘rascals’

Patna, Oct. 9: Chief election commissioner J.M. Lyngdoh today termed politicians “worse than rascals” and called for special laws to rein them in, especially in cases like Gujarat.

Lyngdoh said the general elections would be held in September 2004. “The monsoon being over, there won’t be any problem in holding it that month,” he said.

The chief election commissioner seemed particularly perturbed over the “collapse of system in Gujarat”.

“It is not just rigging. That can be handled by any good person. Gujarat is a special situation. It calls for a special law to allow the election commission’s office to resort to anticipatory action,” he told journalists at Raj Bhavan in Patna.

He clarified that by “anticipatory action”, he meant the commission’s power to take pre-emptive action when it perceived the threat of wrongdoing by politicians.

“Politicians are supermen. We are ordinary persons. So we need special laws to deal with them,” said Lyngdoh, who was here to attend a programme organised by the NGO, Humlog.

To deal with defecting elected members, the power to prosecute “the betrayers of a party” could be vested with the President and not the Speaker, suggested the chief election commissioner. The President, he said, may act in consultation with the election commission.

“Politicians are worse than rascals. If you are a rascal, you are still left with some sense of loyalty. But a politician does not have even that,” asserted Lyngdoh.

“I would not join politics after retirement, not even in my next life,” said the Magsaysay award-winning bureaucrat, who advocated electoral reforms.

The Bihar-cadre IAS officer of the late 60s, who was hit by the “smell of poverty”, also took on the Bihar government.

Lyngdoh recalled that the state was not much better than when he was there during the 70s and 80s.

“But it is much poorer now…. It is a good deal poorer than what I saw last time.

“The thing that strikes you most is the smell of poverty. Poverty smells a lot and it does not smell very pleasantly here,” said Lyngdoh.

Little known during his stint in this state, Lyngdoh said criminalisation of politics in Bihar has been going on for long. He recalled a section of politicians robbing a cooperative bank in Bihar when he was an IAS officer here.

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