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Revolutionary Ideas On Elections To Parliament & Assemblies

If the existing systems of elections to the Parliament and State Legislative Assemblies are modified in the following ways a number of avoidable maladies, which are presently eating into the health of the people’s bodies, can be reduced, if not eliminated.

Before I come to the actual matter, I am raising a few questions for a warm-up.

The questions are:

1. What are the ailments that beset the smooth working of the Indian Parliament and State Legislative Assemblies, in particular, related to those that distract the attention of the House to issues other than the normal schedule?

2. What can be the probable causes?

3. Can we think of a system or create a situation in which these unhealthy trends that the Parliament is presently facing are bypassed or made automatically redundant instead of preventing them? Just as the introduction of ATM (automatic teller machine) and core banking system have made the troubles that we faced in sending money by money order irrelevant. Similarly, the Metro trains have made the work of the TTE irrelevant.

These are some situations in which the problems that we faced earlier have not been solved but have been just made irrelevant now.

4. What are the basic aims of the elections to the Parliament or State Legislative Assemblies?

Are we achieving them?

Take the following questions:

In a State Legislative Assembly is it good for a member to think and work only in the interest of the assembly sector that has voted him/her to power, unmindful of any consequences to the remaining sectors whose voters have no count in his/her election? Will it not be better if the member thinks and works in the interest of as many number of sectors as possible?

Can we think of a way in which all attempts made by a candidate to influence the minds of the electors in his/her favor by using unfair means impossible instead of taking troubles to stop them which is presently being tried time and again without success?

Why do people who were considered clean before getting elected become corrupt after coming to power? Can there be a way to make the elected member aware of his/her voters’ current rating on his/her performance at any time? Can we frame a law to recall a non-performing or a corrupt member before he/she does more harms?

5. Has the menace of regionalism reached the danger level of disintegrating this great nation?

 

Is there any way to make regionalism irrelevant? Can we put the ogre of regionalism and parochialism inside the bottle before it becomes too strong to destroy the establishment? We know that law cannot make a man good but good men can make even bad laws good. However, good laws can make people to co-exist in a better way. For instance, in the absence of the traffic law in India “keep left” many good people could face a number of collisions on the road.

Similarly, had there been no connecting pipes, no water could reach our taps from the reservoirs, although water flows from higher to lower level all the time. In fact the water has been constrained to pass through the pipes in the desired direction while people on the road have been convinced to “keep left” to avoid collision.

Here is the Idea:

1. The Constitution of India must be amended such that a clause running as follows, “It shall be the duty of every bona-fide citizen whose name appears in the current electoral roll, to cast his/her vote in every election conducted by a competent authority” must be inserted in the existing set of fundamental duties of a citizen.

(For elections to the State Legislative Assemblies)

2. The Election Commission of India should see that belonging to any category of assembly/parliamentary seat (general or reserved) there are not less than four sectors (assembly or parliamentary). This is a very important step in order to keep with the spirit of the maintenance of parity to all the candidates while choosing the sector where he/she is to fight the election. This may cause the creation of some more assembly or parliamentary seats even if the number of electors is comparatively less.

3. The nomination of candidates by the parties or by themselves in case of independent candidates must be done as is done now. The only item in the nomination paper that should not be shown is the assembly sector where he/she is to fight for the election. The candidate will know his/her assembly sector only after choosing it (by himself/herself) by lot (conducted by the concerned authority) just 24 hrs or less whichever is the possible shorter time, before the beginning of the election.

The lot must be drawn from among the constituencies after deleting the names of the constituency in whose list the candidate’s name appears and also those where the candidate lived for two and more years during the previous five years, if the situation arises. We can use the term non-resident to denote such a candidate. The concerned authority should see that as far as possible equal numbers of candidates are chosen for each of the sectors. [This is possible with a little effort since for any candidate all sectors except the deleted ones are supposed to be equally favorable or unfavorable to him/her]. For a sitting member (MLA/MP) seeking re-election the name of his/her present constituency together with his/her home constituency should be deleted before choosing by lot the constituency where he/she is to fight the ensuing election. This will greatly reduce the chances of purchasing and selling of votes.

4. All Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) to be used for the elections in a particular assembly/parliamentary sector must be all connected electronically.

5. As the result of the introduction of the EVM with the existing system of voting, every voter casts a valid vote.

The EVMs over and above the existing buttons must have one more to record the choice “none of them”. This insertion will replenish the forfeited negative right of a citizen to cast his/her invalid vote which existed in the ballot paper system, in the event of his/her dislike of all the candidates. Further the

total number of votes cast in favor of each of the candidates in all the booths of the constituency taken together must be made available at the end of the election hours, however keeping the actual information “who gets how many” secrete till the time of counting as is being followed now. When the election time is over, in presence of all the concerned, the presiding officer will press the “none of them” button. [The resulting figure must be the same in all the booths of the constituency]

If the total of the “none of them” is less than 50% of the total number of electors, then the button showing the total number of votes obtained by each candidate without knowing “who gets how many” must be pressed. If anyone of the resulting figures is 50% or more of the total “number of votes polled in the constituency then the election is complete for that constituency and is ready for identifying the winner on a date fixed by the RO.

On the other hand, if none of the total number of votes obtained by each of the candidates is 50% or above then, re-election will be held preferably on the next day. The same shall be the case if the total number of votes cast in the “none of them” button is 50% or above of the total number of the electorates of the constituency. In the re-election if none of the candidates gets 50% or above, then the candidate who gets the maximum number of votes will be declared the winner with the tag of being a minority representative. In any re-poll the “none of them” button should be deactivated. Such a minority representative will be treated in the same way as other winners but the value of his/her vote in the assembly/parliament will carry only a proportional fraction of one vote. For example, in a sector if the winner with minority votes gets 40%, then his vote is of only 40/50 X 100 i.e. only 80% in weightage not 100%.

In the case of any by-election arising out of the non representation of a sector(s), every party will send up a list of at least say, 5 from among non-resident candidates and actual candidate of each party will be selected on an appointed day by lot to be drawn from among the candidates by any unbiased agent {man or machine). In any bye-election there shall be no independent candidate. Sufficient time and chance of exposure for all the party/independent candidates must be given using all available media. The government must bear all the costs incurred in this exercise.

This system will automatically sideline the present trend of choosing winnable candidates instead of the most deserving ones. Because popularity and quality will determine winnability, which is at present the other way round. Further, this will help eliminate non-serious candidates without any compromise in their rights and parties will look for quality candidates instead of fielding the blue-eyed boys of the bosses.

Recall of undeserving members:

The office of the Returning Officer will maintain record of complaints against sitting members demanding recall by way of receiving complains (in prescribed forms) from bonafide electorates who will indicate his/her election details with specimen signatures. The authority will verify the authenticity of the complainant with the verification of the fact that a particular electorate voted for the member under consideration in that particular election. The secrecy of the voters should be maintained to the satisfaction of the voter until such a time of recall arises. Any complaint against any sitting member for recall by any person who doesn’t vote for the member in a related election will not be entertained.

However, at any point of time, if the number of valid complaints against a sitting member for recalls exceeds 50% of the number of votes he got, then his/her removal or recall comes into effect after due notification. The office of the presiding officer of the house must make the current position of every member in respect of valid complaints against his/her available at any point of time. It can be shown on a bill-board with red lights as indicators.

Election of Lok Sabha MPs:

Like the election to the State Assemblies, for the election of an MP of a State, only non-resident candidates should contest with similar procedure. This method will reduce election related majority-minority notion to a naught over and above reducing election related violence.

Incentive to voters:

The Election Commission can initiate a scheme to motivate the electors to cast their votes. For example, by doling out a fixed sum of money not less than the minimum daily wage of a person to every voter who participated in the casting of votes including repolls wherever warranted.

*The article is written by H Jayantkumar Singh.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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Related Sites:

*The Sangai Express- Largest Circulated News Paper In Manipur
*E-Pao! :: Complete e-platform for Manipuris


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