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  1. 1. ELECTIONS IN INDIA  These Days money power is playing "havoc" with the electoral system in the country and Election Commission is fine-tuning its means to deal effectively with the menace.  The unconscionable and grievous expenditure on elections, which gives overwhelming advantage to money-power.  A candidate for Parliament requires crores of rupees to fight an election. These costs are obtained through party funds, which rest not (as they should) on membership fees and small voluntary donations, but on commissions creamed off government contracts, and on bribes given by industrialists to whom the parties have granted favors.  The funds provided to (or gathered by) contestants are then used to seek to bribe voters.  The money spent in fighting elections is recovered many-fold in case the party or contestant wins. “Elections are held to delude the populace into believing that they are participating in Government”. -Gerald F. Lieberman Elections form the mainstay of our Indian Democracy. Our democratic setup bestows on us the right to elect the representatives of the state. In C.Rajagopalchari’s time, a minority of politicians (perhaps 20% or so) were corrupt. And virtually none were criminals. Now, certainly less than 20% of politicians in power are completely honest; and somewhat more than 20% have criminal records. • Barrels of black money flow during elections, parochial tendencies playing their role pressuring public, purchasing them & creating impressions in their mind.
  2. 2. ELECTIONS IN INDIA • This correlation is best reflected in the analysis of criminal records of 4181 repeat candidates by ADR. It shows that 1072 of them had a criminal case the first they contested elections, and in 788 cases of 74% of the time, they managed to get a party ticket to recontest. • For example, in parties like the SP, a candidate with a clean record has an 18% chance of winning, his chances go up to 31% if he has a criminal record. • In the BJP, the chances of being elected with a clean record is 28%, while with a criminal record, chances go up to 40%. • While the average assets of 62,847 candidates, stood at Rs 1.37 crore, those of MPs and MLAs stood at Rs 3.83 crore," he added. This just shows that criminalization and money power are a fact of Indian elections, and is operating in the full knowledge of political parties. Let us go through some of the flaws found in Indian electoral system On seeing these instances, politics seems to be the market of barter system that is “note ke badle vote”. As per recent amendment a candidate can contest from at most 2 constituencies. Bureaucratization of politics is also seen in the current arena. The parties can manage to get the officers in their favor to be the electoral officers in their constituencies But in many cases candidate wins both, he selects any one and need arises for bye election leading to unnecessary expenditure. In India, muscle and money can help you win elections. The Association of Democratic Rights (ADR) has the figures to prove it. Candidates do not disclose all the cases of conviction and pending charges against them. They provide wrong and incomplete information regarding their assets, liabilities, and income and educational qualifications.
  3. 3. Need for Electoral Reforms Mere conducting of elections periodically doesn’t prove that we are republic and have an effective democracy. It is the way elections are held, the quality of people elected, their performances that make our democracy effective. We can’t put the entire blame for current state of affairs on our political system because it is not functioning in vacuum. The society has share in the blame. The behavior of our political system is its response to the society and to reform our political system, we need to reform society and its subsystems. This is where electoral reform becomes important. Elections are not entirely free and fair; they are not reflecting the true will and aspirations of the people. The exceedingly high premium placed on capturing power by fair or foul means is because of the elected representatives' conviction that power is the passport to personal prosperity. The biggest challenge that we, who have preached and practiced probity in public life face, is to restore faith in the political class and rejuvenate the democratic process". Corrective steps are urgently needed to strengthen Parliament’s role as the authentic voice of the people as they struggle and suffer to realize the inspiring vision of a free and just society enshrined in the Constitution.
  4. 4. This includes reforms of: The term ‘Electoral Reform’ refers to the change in the systems of election process in order to improve on the desirability of the public in the election results. One of the prime factors in electoral reforms is the change in the process and procedure of voting System. “An election is a moral horror, as bad as a battle except for the blood; a mud bath for every soul concerned in it.” - George Bernard Shaw ELECTION REFORMS Voting systems • A two-round system • Instant-runoff voting • Instant Round Robin • Condorcet Voting • Approval voting and referendums • Recall elections. • Vote-counting procedures. Rules about political parties Nomination Rules • How candidates and political parties are able to stand and how they are able to get their names onto ballots (Ballot Access). Eligibility to vote Ballot design and voting equipment Safety of voters and election workers Voter Turnout • Factors which affect the rate of voter participation. Measures against bribery, coercion, and conflicts of interest Electoral constituencies and election district borders
  5. 5. Proposed Electoral reforms  Fine tune the RTI Act The transparency in the government machinery is the basic requirement to combat corruption. The Right to Information Act (RTI) should be further fine tuned and stringent punishment should be given to the government officials who do not provide the information sought by the citizens under RTI Act. Political Parties should be Included in RTI.  Need for fast track court for election disputes- A special permanent court must be constituted to look into all issues relating to elections at the state and central level , which should be a fast track court, which would have the authority to ban criminals and dishonest people from contesting in the elections. Appointment of Appellate Authority in Districts against Orders.  Scrap MP/MLA constituency fund The MP and MLA constituency fund should be scrapped forthwith, as there is lot of evidence of this being used for corrupt practices and generation of black money which is used during elections.  Conduct knowledge test for candidates While educational qualifications need not be insisted for the candidates contesting elections, they should be asked to undergo a knowledge test by election commission. This would ensure that ignorant people who have only money power and muscle power do not enter the fray and win elections.
  6. 6.  Curb black money circulation Circulation of black money in the country which plays a big role in the elections can be largely curtailed by de monetizing one thousand rupee currency notes and five hundred rupee currency notes immediately.  Deny permission for more than two terms No MLA or M P should be permitted to contest in elections more than two times . The American law that no one can become President more than two times is a commendable step and similar regulations should be followed in India also.  Educate the voters Uneducated people may be manipulated easily. They don’t understand the tricks and fundamentals of politicians. So voters must be educated to choose the right candidate for themselves. Generally uneducated people become the victims of politics, politicians try to manipulate and attract them with money and goods. Educate voter will vote better.  Impose President’s rule three months before the general elections The suggestion of Rajaji that the President’s rule should be imposed before the general elections should be accepted and implemented to ensure fair elections, even if it would require an amendment to the constitution. Ensuring that the politicians would not be in power at the time of conducting the general elections would go a long way in conducting fair elections in the country.
  7. 7.  Changes in Winning Conditions To introduce a condition that in order to be declared elected from a constituency a candidate shall secure not less than 50% + 1 vote of the total votes polled, failing which, there shall be a runoff election limiting the contest to the two leading candidates in the first round, and  Right To Reject-Negative Vote To add one more slot in the ballot paper "none of the above" for negative vote i.e. for rejecting all the candidates contesting. If a majority of the votes polled reject all the candidates there shall be a fresh election with new faces.  Permit Online Voting-High Voter Turnout If the process of voting instead of visiting the polling station with the help of technology can be made through the internet where one can visit the website and cast one’s vote then the voting percentage might be on higher side unlike the contemporary poor percentage of voters turning out to cast one’s vote.  Insist on internal democracy in political parties. Political parties should be made more accountable by being forced to do internal audits of their finances and producing evidence of internal democracy. At present, there is no indication that Election Commission exercises any visible or effective supervision in this regard.  Curb family interests To curb vested family interests which often result in money power and muscle power, more than three blood relatives(from the same family) should not be allowed to contest from the same party.
  8. 8.  Introduce finger print electronic voting Election Commission should introduce finger print based electronic voting machines, which would count a vote to be legal only when the finger print of the person matches with the one in the database. This would completely eliminate bogus voting. This would not be as difficult as it is thought now, considering the growth of information technology.  Give security to Election Commissioners / Electoral Officers Those holding positions of Election Commissioners and Electoral Officers should be protected from threats from the politicians at the time of elections or later, by being given personal security by the government till they attain the age of 70, if they so desire.  Need for interaction between Election Commission and people belonging to lower income group It is necessary that the Election Commissioners and State Electoral Officers should interact with the people belonging to lower income group living in rural areas (majority of the votes come from them and they are gullible) every month as a matter of priority, to educate them that selling their votes would cause both the country and their personal welfare dearly in the long run.  Let the Election Commission assume a bigger role The Election Commission and State Electoral Officers should be conscious of the fact that they are responsible not only for conducting the elections in a fair manner but also should ensure that right climate prevails in the country for conducting the elections. The Election Commission should strive to assume a bigger role and responsibility for itself, rather than considering itself as a mere machinery for conducting the elections. People have such expectation from Election Commission and it should raise up to the occasion and meet the expectations of the people.
  9. 9. Impact • Improve the equality of representation or to make the party system more manageable, It should be possible to decide election outcomes objectively, efficiently, and quickly in every possible situation. • Vagueness, inconsistencies, and impracticalities in an elections can be reduced. • People get what they are demanding. • The process should make it possible to achieve a real break with the past. • Elections are not entirely free and fair; they are not reflecting the true will and aspirations of the people • Elections will reflect the true will and aspirations of the people. • Role of Money & Muscle Power will be diminished. • Eligible and More Qualified People will only get to job serve people and Nation. • Communalization of votes will not be there. • More Development in Various Fields will happen as result of Honest Politicians. • And there’s a lot more.
  10. 10. Challenges & Risks: This list is not exhaustive One of our able Chief Election Commissioner has rightly said that: It is the citizens and civil society which have to work vigorously towards this along with the Government. In the long run, the legitimacy and survival of an electoral reform also depend on its technical merit and the degree to which it effectively addresses past problems. People must be well educated to understand all the faces of politics and select the best amongst the worst. Reform is needed not only for the Electoral system but for the society as a whole. Let’s do what we can. Educate the innocent. Don’t encourage anti- social elements. Don’t be a silent spectator to the crimes. Discourage favoring, corruption, parochial tendencies like voting for caste, region, language etc. Recognize the true leaders.. Demand transparency. Exercise your right to vote. Vote for values, talents and visions. In the long term the legitimacy of an electoral reform may diminish as new interests, parties, issues, and priorities arise, even in the most representative democracies. In spite of making lots of rules; it is not possible to make the Electoral system fool proof. Freedom we are enjoying is the fruit of the Indian freedom struggle tree to which millions of freedom fighters have poured their blood for it to grow and yield the fruit. Get started before it’s too late and out of our hands.
  11. 11. References • Hartlyn, Jonathan. 1988. The Politics of Coalition Rule in Colombia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. • Mainwaring, Scott. 1991. "Politicians, Parties, and Electoral Systems: Brazil in Comparative Perspective." Comparative Politics 24:1 (October). • -----. 1997. "Explaining Choices of Political Institutions: Interests and Rational Politicians in Brazil, 1985-1988." Unpublished ms. • Ref: Proposed electoral reforms by ECI • The Law Commission in its 170th Report on Reform of the Electoral laws (1999)