Cleansing of Election Process

The Parliament election of 2019 is over and a decisive mandate has been given by the people for a stable central government for the next five years. While this is welcome, it is high time that the Election Commission gets busy with refining the election process to weed out the following areas of concern & criticism raised by civil society for quite some time. It is not clear whether the Commission is fully authorized to take decisions after public consultation or the Parliament has to frame laws for implementation. If the latter is true, there is every chance of the process getting derailed as the quality and opportunism of our Parliamentarians are well known. However, unless the efforts are on, this ‘dirty politics’ will ruin the very core of Indian democracy.

a) Decriminalization Most of us have received and forwarded a message circulated in various social media that while a common man with police record is not eligible for being selected in a government job, how anybody can become an MP/MLA with such record. The political parties argue that such police filing is very often ‘political’ manipulation and nobody is a criminal unless proven. Unfortunately, the same kind of argument does not hold water for employment case. A recent newspaper report after the election mentioned that about 41% of BJP MPs and almost equal proportion of Congress MPs have criminal cases against them. How can we expect good governance from this sort of Parliamentarians? Is it not within the purview of Election Commission to debar ‘criminal’ candidates? If not, they should arrange public debate and make sure that Parliamentarians are compelled to frame such a law.

b) NOTA By public demand, an option to vote for ‘None of the Above’ (NOTA) has been created and voters can opt for this. However, the option does not give any power to the voter. Voices have been raised that in constituencies where % of NOTA votes exceeds that of non – NOTA category, there should be re-election changing the candidates. Why Election Commission cannot implement it? Otherwise, what other utility has been thought of when this option was introduced?

c) Cost of Election This has two parts – one, to conduct the process by Election Commission itself and the other, for canvassing by candidates/parties. Both are substantial for a poor country like us with state & central elections not happening at the same time. For the first part, cost can be reduced by conducting at least partially by digital/online methods. A sizeable proportion of educated class may opt for this mode given the choice. The Commission may think of this keeping proper checks & balances. If financial transactions are possible online, why not voting? Yes, there may be frauds but the same is possible even in today’s method viz. ballots/EVMs. Those who do not opt can continue to vote by conventional methods. Regarding the other part, i.e., party poll expenditure, it is futile to suggest anything unless the parties raise their conscience to avoid dubious methods of raising and spending money for the purpose. The minimum they can do is let their accounts be audited and submitted to tax authorities.

d) Corruption Once an election is over, the elected candidates no longer feel they are public servants. Instead, the relation between the elector & the elected becomes Praja & Raja. And the Raja begins to distribute favours to those who have helped him in becoming the Raja. This distribution of favour is at the root of corruption. It is difficult to break this nexus between today’s Parliamentarians and the business community – particularly where Parliamentarians of all class & creed including the so called leftists agree unanimously to endow themselves for lifelong benefits even if elected once. The minimum that can be demanded is a transparency of sources of funding (unlike hazy election bonds). The irony of the present system is that while an ordinary citizen cannot fix his own salary or retirement benefits or whether he would pay tax or not, Parliamentarian or political parties can and they do it blatantly without any remedy in sight. Who will make laws to set minimum qualifying requirements for being a candidate for election, or for fixing retirement age or of limiting eligibility of maximum duration of holding an office of authority? There is real need for intense public debate on such issues. more  

View all 38 comments Below 38 comments
This is the right time to move EC , JUDICIARY and National Law Commission. Ill-full coalition in Karnataka RESULTING IN POISONOUS POLITICAL DEMOCRACY challenging the Objectives and GUARANTEES confined by Dr Ambedkar . more  
The Election Commission should verify the details and the contents mentioned in the application/nomination like nationality, sources of income, compare it with the previous ones, how the income has grown manifold and the like.
Also no holiday should be declared for casting vote. Instead, employers should be directed to give time off for few hours. It is ridiculous to give holiday for persons working in shifts in the afternoon or nights when the voting timings are closed. more  
Most important and Prime duty of EC is to disallow those possessing Crimes relating to Social/Financial Frauds.
Second is mandating Accounting and Audit of Political Party Funds.
Third is formulating compulsory performance mandates both in Houses and outside as well as strict follow of Oath of Promise.
Fourth and not the lease to punish those indulge in Offenses relating to Elections and notifying to Public within 2 months of Every Election.
Election mechanism as a hole must be revamped.1)Eligibility criteria 2)Simultaneous elections of centre and state 3)Allowing proxy voting and many more. more  
Its good to knew about 12 Special Courts but sorry to mention that Judgement procedures still running on same fashion more  
Reforms in Judiciary , Procedure long awaited fast needed to have Speedy Trial. SC to re visit their earlier Judgments on Speedy Trial. A CJI recently opined that they will try for concluding the cases in 3 years but can do best in 5years.
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