ELECTIONS & ELECTIONEERING IN INDIA
Oxford dictionary defines corruption as: “Dishonest or illegal behaviour”. What the law of the land permits is “legal”. Anything against the law is “illegal’. Honesty or dishonesty in a behaviour can be determined with reasonable degree of accuracy. Provisions are, however, sometimes made in the law that impart legal sanctity to some obviously dishonest practices. The case in point is elections and electioneering in our country. Elections are periodically held to elect the people’s representatives to various legislative bodies: Parliament, State Legislative Assemblies etc. They are sine qua non for democratic institutions to function in true spirit of democracy. In these elections a candidate who polls more votes than his rivals gets elected to represent the people of the constituency; even a single vote more or less polled against one’s nearest rival makes all the difference between the victor and the loser. The percentage of the votes cast in his favour is also immaterial. It is not uncommon that at times candidate polling less than 30% of the total votes polled and cast is elected and it does not matter that more than 70% of the voters do not want him to be imposed on them as their representative. This aberration is so widespread that most of the so-called representatives of the people adorning these august bodies represent less than 30% of the voters, the rest 70% having no faith in them. The aberration can very easily be corrected by requiring the first two candidates topping the list to contest the election again in case the candidate who has polled more votes has not also polled more than 50% votes in the first round itself. The decisive factor must be polling more than 50% of the total votes cast in a constituency. What with Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) in vogue, the exercise won’t cost much- the minuscule increase in cost is worth incurring in order to ensure that the elected representatives are not the pseudo representatives of people as they are now under the present dispensation.
Further, our Electoral system is so defective that it would require many more reforms to make it egalitarian, near perfect and almost fool-proof, such as 1.'None found suitable' provision in the EVMs, (Popularly known as "Right to Reject) 2.Provision for recall of non-performing or corrupt MP, MLA, (Popularly known as "Right to Recall non-performing or corrupt legislators) 3. Taxing criteria for the selection of the correct candidates such as a mandatory minimum experience of military, para-military or social service etc. etc., (Popularly known as "Right to Informed Selection). This would enable electorate to chose their representative out of a few most deserving candidates for the exalted positions.
In the ultimate analysis, it is the quality of the candidates fielded that would reflect upon the quality of the people's chosen representatives. This in turn would determine the quality of the democracy we practice. And the corruption-free democracy is sure to accelerate our growth and progress many times over.
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