Media And Fair Polls
A democratic system cannot function properly without a vibrant media that keep the people informed, educated and aware and hold the power that be accountable to the people. A democracy, true to the spirit of the word, puts in place a system that gives people the power to give mandate to the good leaders to make laws and govern the country. The system also grants them the privilege to punish bad leaders for not working up to the mark of the popular expectations. Periodic election is the inherent component of a democratic system where people can exercise their adult franchise and throw weight to turn the balance of national politics to the direction they choose. This sounds like a utopian imagination but well informed people can bring about a change through ballots that would not be possibly done through other methods. It is the duty of the media to expose the anomalies, irregularities and bad under dealings and bring the truth to light. Only in such an environment can the people make their sound judgment and take right decisions. Holding an important position of Fourth Estate in the parallel line to the three organs of the state- the executive, legislative and the judiciary- the media has a heavy obligation to discharge its duty of a watchdog. It should always be striving to dig out truth from beneath the surface and put to glaring light for all the people to see and think. Election is a crucial time during which such role of the media is all the more relevant.
It is in this light that the Chief Election Commissioner has drawn the attention of the media to play their objective role by disseminating factual news and information to the masses while remaining fully mindful of their professional ethics and norms. Media people are not above the law of the land and the election code of conduct, just like any other people. Moreover, they have the additional role of informing every citizen about the poll code including the government officials, security personnel, political leaders and activists, candidates, volunteers and general people. It is the media that has to expose the false promises made during the campaigns, discourage unhealthy competition and the undesirable bid to win votes through money and muscle power. Media people should also remain critical about the government regarding the possible misuse of power and state resources. They should watch whether or not the polling officials are playing a neutral role. Amid current situation of insecurity marked by repeated bomb assaults on candidates, the media need to dig deeper and come up with the evidences of increasing violent incidents. Who is leading such disruptive activities and who is possibly funding them? Are any lapses on the part of the security agencies? The truth comes out only when journalists work hard and treat facts without taking sides. Such a role played with bold spirit can help make the election successful. The objective of free, fair and fearless election cannot be made a reality without a committed role of the media.
Narayan Kaji Shrestha is the secretariat member and spokesperson of the ruling Nepal Communist Party. Although he had staked his claim to the post of...