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.
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
• 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
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.
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.
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
• A two-round system
• Instant-runoff voting
• Instant Round Robin
• Condorcet Voting
voting and referendums
• Recall elections.
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
Eligibility to vote
Ballot design and voting equipment Safety of voters and election workers
• Factors which affect the
rate of voter participation.
Measures against bribery, coercion, and conflicts of interest
Electoral constituencies and election district borders
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
• 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
• 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
• 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.
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..
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.
• Hartlyn, Jonathan. 1988. The Politics of Coalition Rule in Colombia. Cambridge: Cambridge
• 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)