Citing the furore created over recently concluded Rajya Sabha elections in Gujarat, Election Commissioner OP Rawat on Wednesday while hitting out at the political spectrum called “winning at all cost” the new political mantra in the country.

Speaking at the at the ‘Consultation on Electoral and Political Reforms’ organised by the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR), Rawat said that in the recent scenario it seems that all the political parties are excluding “ethical considerations” and will go at length to ensure a win in the elections.   

“It appears to a cynical common man that we have been scripting a narrative that places maximum premium on winning at all cost,” he said.

Declaring his concern over the free and fair elections process, Rawat said, “Democracy thrives when elections are free, fair and transparent.”

 “In this narrative, poaching of legislators is extolled as smart political management; strategic introduction of money for allurement, tough-minded use of state machinery for intimidation etc. are all commended as resourcefulness,” he added.

Taking note of the violation of secrecy of vote in the recently concluded Rajya Sabha polls in Gujarat, the Election Commission earlier this week asserted the need to improve the layout of the polling stations.

The EC also said that strong measures need to be taken to ensure that the ballot paper is not being seen by anyone during the polling.

Notably, the Election Commission had rejected the votes of the two Congress MLAs — Bhola Bhai and Raghavji Bhai Patel for allegedly showing their votes to BJP leaders, which was against the rules.

The flouting of rules during the elections is not new. Last year, EC took measures in the election process after an ‘ink controversy’ surfaced in Haryana Rajya Sabha polls and 12 votes marked using a wrong pen were declared invalid.

During his keynote address at the ADR meet, Rawat also spoke about the ill practice of paid news and how it is impacting the mindset of the voters.

He said a winner can commit no sin while a defector who crosses over to the ruling party stays cleansed of all the sins and this new normal is creepy of political morality.