New Delhi | Former chief election commissioner S Y Quraishi on Monday took a critical view of the media’s role during the recently held Lok Sabha elections, alleging that instead of “asking tough questions to leaders of the day”, it was “only questioning” the opposition parties.
He was responding to a question during a panel discussion organised at the India International Centre here, after the release of a report on poll expenditure, by a city-based think tank.
“Normally, the role of media is to question the government, what they are doing, what they are not doing… but they (media) were only questioning the Opposition… ‘Why they (opposition parties) didn’t do something 50 years ago?’ Is that what the media should be doing?” Quraishi asked.
“But it was all sugar and honey talking to leaders of the day. Instead of asking tough questions, they were expressing thanks that they were given time (by leaders),” he said without naming anyone. The Lok Sabha polls were held in seven phases from April 11 to May 19. The results were declared on May 23.
“Media’s role during the 2019 polls has been problematic and a bit questionable… Couple that with what happened on social media, the 48-hour silence period norms were violated with impunity,” Quraishi alleged.
“Because, it was a multi-phased election, and in one phase it was a silence period and in another campaign was happening… and it was impossible to isolate these two areas… people were getting exposed to campaigning. Media was aware and conscious of it, and playing speeches of various leaders repeatedly with whole day kind of telecast,” he said.
The former CEC said the media is considered the “eyes and ears” of the EC. “We had issued instructions to our machineries down the line that if they see anything on media, consider that as a complaint to be followed up,” he said, speaking about his time in office.