Controversial remarks from political candidates have always been a part of Indian elections.

However, in the ongoing 2024 LS election, candidates are crossing ethical boundaries more than ever before.

Leaders from both the ruling and Opposition parties have been making intemperate remarks and the poll panel has sent notices to some of them.

These are glaring violations of the Election Commission of India’s (ECI) Model Code of Conduct.

In response, the ECI has issued general warnings and notified the concerned political parties to maintain the ethical standards of elections.

However, are mere warnings enough to ensure fairness during the election?

The ECI is expected to come down hard on any political party or candidate violating the law; and issuing mere warnings is not enough.

The ECI is one of the trustworthy institutions that has ensured fair elections since independence, so inaction on its part can dent its reputation.

The ECI is already facing a growing challenge in countering the criminalisation of politics during elections.

Hate speech among parliamentarians has unfortunately become a norm nowadays.

According to the Association for Democratic Reforms analysis, out of 4,768 MPs and MLAs in the last five years contested, 107 lawmakers have hate speech cases against them.

The BJP leads with 42 such lawmakers, followed by Congress with 15, and then AAP, DMK, and others.

The 2018 book How Democracies Die written by Harvard academics fellows Daniel Ziblatt and Steven Levitsky, says that democracies deteriorate not necessarily due to violent coups but because elected parliamentarians exploit the very institutions meant to uphold democratic processes in order to undermine them.