Role of media during Lok Sabha elections

Media – sentinel of democracy must perform its duty sincerely and honestly
Media or Press is considered as fourth estate and fourth pillar of democracy. After, Constitution, Executive and Judiciary, Press is the only strongest pillar of democracy. In case the work is done with complete honesty, impartiality and fearlessly, then journalism is also a sacred and pious profession like doctor and teacher, in which one can earn bread and butter besides serving the humanity and country.
A journalist has to give information to the people around him through his newspaper, news agency, radio, TV channels and now online news portals, about the happenings, political, religious and cultural activities around us, without distorting the actual facts – which are very pious.
In fact, the duty and responsibility of Press becomes more important for independent, impartial and rightly at the time of conducing of Lok Sabha or Assembly elections by the Election Commission of India (ECI). A journalist has to report about the actual condition of the constituency, religion, caste based community, back history, main candidates and their existence in the society, manifestoes of main political parties, main problems of the area and demands, development works undertaken during the last five years by the MP of the constituency, interaction with the people, issues raised during the election campaign, aptitude, instinctive tendency etcetera.
For a journalist, all candidates are equal and it is not good to project one candidate and weak to the other candidate. It is his earnest duty to respond back to his readers and viewers, on the issues being raised during the election campaign.
Now the activities of Lok Sabha elections are on its peak. The candidates by the different political parties have been announced and the game of “Aya Ram and Gya Ram” is also going on. The candidate who is denied the party ticket on some technical rounds or policy of the High Command, he immediately jumps and takes shelter in the rival party group and normally the rival party honour him by giving the party ticket. Similarly, one political party in alliance is also joining hands with the other alliance party. It is purely a selfishness and opportunistic on the part of Gya Ram. The Gya Ram, who could not be loyal to his parent-party, how he can be loyal and agree to the ideology of other party?
The main political parties, particularly ruling party Congress and BJP trying to grab the power are trying to allure the voters through rallies is going on from the very beginning. In these rallies, the party leaders are using the un-parliamentarian language and giving provoking statements. The Congress party is projecting its works undertaken during the last ten years like Right to Information, Right to Education, Food Security Bill, Lokpal and Bills passed in the interest of public. At the same time, the BJP party, declaring the RSS as Communal Party is being charged with playing the card of ‘Hindutava’ for securing the votes. On the other hand, BJP is declaring the Congress party as corrupt, disturbing the economy, failure in controlling the inflation and giving misadministration to the country. Congress President Sonia Gandhi has commented on Modi – a candidate for the post of Prime Minister – as producer of harvesting the agriculture of poison and then Modi gave the title of ‘most poisonous’ party. Modi is taunting Rahul Gandhi by saying him as ‘Shehzada’, Rahul is asking ‘Hitler’ to Modi.
In May 2009 Lok Sabha elections and in February 2012 Punjab Assembly elections, certain candidates in connivance with the publishers and reporters, managed advertisement like news, meaning thereby, with the result, a normal reader started reading it as an authentic news and it had some impact on them. This time, the Election Commission a special eye is being kept on ‘paid news’ and for the purpose, a committee has also been constituted through Mass Certification Media Centre (MCMC). The major responsibility of media, particularly the electronic media (TV channels) is to restrain itself from ‘paid news’ and to expose the leaders getting their news published by paying handsome amount in the form of package during the election period, in favour of a particular candidate. Since online news portals have not yet been recognized by the Ministry of Information and Technology, they are out from this picture and social medias – Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter etc., have taken its place because these medias have more impact than print and even electronic medias.
Earlier, a person used to adopt the profession of journalism for a particular mission like service to the country, social service or for personal religious purposes. But for the last two-three decades, the Press being given the special rights and honour at the level of government, has become a business house. Many corporate sectors and wealthy and opulent senior political leaders are trying to capture the media or they have launched their own newspaper or TV channel and they hardly follow the rules and regulations and moral values in the field of media. Mostly they speak the language of political party or family whereas the media has to perform its duty independently with impartiality and without any fear. For any news paper or TV channel, all political parties are equal for them despite the fact that the existence of black-sheep cannot be ruled out.
You see, there is a lot of debate and controversy over the opinion polls. Lok Sabha has 543 segments and in each segment there are 14-15 lakh voters with 9 or more constituencies. How can one imagine as to which party or alliance would get the maximum seats, by asking the questions from few voters from the urban voters and that too, from the persons near the cities?
During the 2012 Assembly elections in Punjab, the opinion poll was talking about the return of Congress but Akali-BJP alliance again got the majority. At the time of Delhi Assembly elections during last December, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) was declared to get only 5-7 seats but it surprised by winning over 28 seats. The Election Commission has recommended the government to put a bank on ‘poll opinions’ but it has taken no action so far.
It is also seen that during the election days, certain candidates distribute cash and intoxicants to create a vote bank but only the media can bring on surface such actions on the part of political parties. The mode code of conduct comes into force immediately after the announcement of elections but the government machinery is normally misused by the ruling party. The influential leaders or ruling party also violate the rules and complaints are lodged with the Election Commission by the other candidates or parties and in this way, the role and responsibility of media is further enhanced.
Frankly speaking, independent, fearless and impartial media is the sentinel of democracy and it should perform its duty sincerely and honestly.
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