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Media and Poll Campaign

Reuters/Amit Dave

The media of all sorts (print, electronic, etc.) play an indispensable role in the proper functioning of a democracy. It is a “watchdog” in context of an election. It focuses and makes aware all by scrutinizing the successes, and failures of candidates, governments, and electoral management bodies. It informs ‘ public of how effectively, they have performed, and help to hold them to account.’

It has the largest responsibility to raise public opinion ‘by educating voters on how to exercise their democratic rights, by reporting on the development of an election campaign, by providing a platform for the political parties, and candidates to communicate their message to the electorate, by providing a platform for the public to communicate their concerns, opinions, and needs, to the parties/candidates, the EMB, the government, and to other voters, and to interact on these issues, by allowing the parties and candidates to debate with each other, by reporting results and monitoring vote counting, by scrutinizing the electoral process itself, including electoral management, in order to evaluate the fairness of the process, its efficiency, and its probity, and by providing information that, as far as possible, avoids inflammatory language, helping to prevent election-related violence.

According to a report by the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies – ‘The media plays a major role in keeping the citizenry abreast of current events and raising awareness of various issues in any society. It also has an extremely significant impact on the public’s views and way of thinking. The media is the primary means through which public opinion is shaped and at times manipulated. If this is the media’s role then in normal course of events, it becomes even more vital in exceptional periods, one of which is electoral junctures, when the media becomes a primary player. Elections constitute a basic challenge to the media, putting its impartiality and objectivity to the test. The task of the media, especially national media outlets, is not and should not be to function as a mouthpiece for any government body or particular candidate. Its basic role is to enlighten and educate the public and act as a neutral, objective platform for the free debate of all points of view.’

Recent times, media particularly electronic (TV channels) are involved debating on personal relations issue of the leaders, and their counterparts. It has become a tasty and crispy issue to all sections of the society. With a reference to the concurrent Assembly Election 2020 of West Bengal, it is very much prominent when the leaders of different political parties participating in the said election are regularly discussing the issue of the infidelity on the TV channels. This lower standard of a discussion has been allowing the channels for its high TRP. Is it the right role and responsibility? We have to remember that people in general are losing their respect and faith in leaders. Further, it would campaign to increase the issue of infidelity among people, and its impact would be obviously adverse in familial as well as societal life.

It has been noted that media particularly electronic media are putting lower millage to bring the attention of people and their leaders on the development lacks and crisis of suffering section in the election campaigns. Everywhere there is a promotional campaign on the political colours- which are better than which? What would be their approach of development, particularly on the unemployment issue, better living issues of poor and vulnerable not getting sufficient priority? This power battle is pushing the innocent party supports into the drain of conflict and violence. It uses to destroy their interpersonal and intra-personal relationship. Secondly, media are more impressively publicizing the issue to alternation of the political affiliation of different political leaders who have no ethics. But they are greedier to hold power and self-promotional centric. Their ultimate goal is to enrich their personal base.

Therefore, media should teach the people about their right choice for a real people’s government. It should make aware the people about their lacks/suffering and expectation from the government for their sustainable development. And simultaneously, it should bring to knowledge of the political parties what the people expect from them. It should work as a bridge between people and political parties to be contested in the poll with specific development goal and agenda.

Its role should not be biased politically rather it should be biased for the sake of the people at large. It should criticize the government in positive terms for rectification through analyzing its strength and weeks. What it has done, what it has to do and what’s its failure. It should be work effective and true friends. It should not work as only an advertiser and professional business sector.

The views and opinions expressed by the writer are personal and do not necessarily reflect the official position of VOM.
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