Election Reforms vs India Democracy
“Though Election Reforms are must for the survival of our democracy, yet it is the awareness among public to vote in favour of sincere, dedicate and honest political leader that can put a check on all evils of the systems.”
Elections have been held and are being held in our country now for nearly fifty years even after the country won her independence. In the earlier days there was an unusual enthusiasm even among the voters as it was for them a new experience and a new privilege granted to them. There ever was in our country the system of adult franchise provided in the constitution and elections have been held in accordance with that. In the earliest days of independence, Congress was the only party with a mass base and government whether at the central or at the state level had only one party government-the Congress Party. But democracy- the political system adopted under the constitution by our country slowly and gradually found other parties getting formed and getting their foothold. Out of the fifty years of independence. West Bengal has seen a unbroken record of the Communist Party rule. In other states too there have been at different stages and periods other parties also forming governments. Slowly and gradually a multiparty system got developed in the country and several regional parties emerged and are emerging and are making their presence felt. What is the most concerning aspect of the emergence of these parties is that most of them are exploiting caste politics, actually they have come into being only on the foundation of caste division such as Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, CPM, Akali Dal, Shiva Sena etc. At present the system of coalition government is prevalent not only at the centre but in some of the states also. There have always been pulls and counter-pulls in a coalition partnership and parties ally and break alliances on minor issues.
Therefore it is necessary that some such refer in the election process should be formulated which may guarantee a five years term of the government. At the same time minimize expenditure of the election process, guarantee against defection from one party to another and bring about an elimination of ‘independents’ taking participate in elections as and when they win they remain vulnerable to money power and get purchased by a party to form a majority and then get portfolios in the government of their choice. Money power has begun to play a big role in elections and recently held Rajya Sabha election has exposed this malady in a chronic shape where cross-voting across party lines was witnessed on a large scale.
Thus the election commission as well as the government has been set thinking on electoral reforms of a far-reaching result. It has also been found time and again how bogus voting or impersonalized voting or by the use of muscle power to stop voters, nor favourable, from casting their votes. All these lacunae have been witnessed over the years ever since elections started to be held.
As part of the election reforms, the present Union Government has taken initiative by hiking the ceiling of election expenditure on Oct. 21, 2003, for the Lok Sabha from Rs. 1.5 lakhs to Rs. 25 laksh per constituency. In case of Assembly Constituency, the limit increased to Rs. 10 lakhs with adjustments in the case of smaller states. The last revision of the expenditure was committed in 1997 and the Election Commission in its meeting in July 2003, suggested to revise the ceiling as the value of rupees has declined considerably. But it is again paradoxical that everyone including the election commission know that the ceiling of expenditure fixed, is just enough to cover up the small proportion of the actual expenses, but the election commission has no way to look into the actual expenditure done by the politicians.
A suggestion was also made earlier that the election expenses be funded by the government to check the misuse of black money in the elections but owing to the scarcity of ‘will’ on the part of political leaders its implementation was not taken sincerely. The Election Commission exercises fully discretionary and disciplinary power during the election period. It was with the efforts of election commission that a consensus among the political parties was build up on the implementation of modal code of conduct. The election commission has accomplished a vital task of introduction of photo identity cards for every voters in the country. The identity cards not only eliminate the evil of impersonation but also useful in various fields. The commission has made it mandatory for voters to identify themselves either by the voters identity cards or any other authorized document. The introduction of electronic voting machines is also a step forward in election reforms which make the booth capturing almost impossible unless the presiding officer and other staff do not support them fully.
The election to the Lok Sabha were scheduled to be held in the month of May, 2004, the Election Commission had taken very important steps of banning the vengeful advertisement or unethical advertisement on television. The instruction of the election commissioner to remove the posters and boards displayed at the state expenses, is a step in right direction.
With all the above reforms it is still to be seen how successful could be our political system to fight the evil of corruption in our democratic set up. The use of money and muscle power in elections cannot be set aside by these reforms. More stringent rules are needed and more powers are necessary to be given to the Election Commission.
To fight the devil of corruption a strong will power, determined endeavours and a dedicated approach is required from the political leaders. If ethical and morality is expected from the political leaders, the voting to a fair and honest leaders is expected from the general public without making any consideration to caste, creed or affiliation of the candidate.
In democracy the public is the most powerful entity. If the public do not vote in favour of criminals, dishonest and corrupt politicians who desire to buy their votes by money or muscle powers, every things shall function nicely and the democracy will shine in this darkspectrum of hitherto corrupt and criminalized political system.