POLITY

Electoral politics and reforms

Electoral politics and reforms

Context:

Recent Poll Violence in WB Assembly election , Corruption , inability of Election commission demands immediate electoral reform.

Probable Question:

  1. Analyze the need of bringing electoral reforms in      strengthening democracy in India. Suggest some reforms to make elections      in India more transparent.

Issues involved in electoral politics of India:

● There are many factors on the basis of which elections is fought in India like poverty, casteism, communalism, criminalization of politics, poll violence, booth capturing , non-serious independent candidates, unemployment etc.

Criminalisation of Politics:- It refers to a situation in which the anti-social elements enter the electoral process by contesting elections, getting elected to the legislature, and consequently occupying public offices. This happens due to existing strong nexus between the criminals and some politicians abusing the loopholes in the present system.

Money and Muscle Power:- In every constituency, candidates have to spend crores of rupees for campaigning, publicity, etc. Most candidates far exceed the permissible limit of expenses.

o In certain parts of the country, there are widespread reports of illegal and untoward incidents during polling such as the use of violence, intimidation, booth capturing, etc.

Lack of Moral Values in Politics: It is seen that the moral values of political party are declining. And day by day, a valueless party emitting in India. Party dynamics in India has led to the emergence of valueless politics

● Misuse of government machinery take different forms, such as use of government vehicles for canvassing, advertisements at the cost of government and public exchequer highlighting their achievements, disbursements out of the discretionary funds at the disposal of the ministers, etc, which gives an unfair advantage to the ruling party at the time of elections.

Caste-based Politics:- Caste politics in the last three decades have been marked by the desire for power on the caste-lines rather than a substantial agenda for social reform of the downtrodden. However, election campaigns along communal or caste lines are banned under the election rules.

Paid News: Paid news is any news or analysis appearing in any media (Print and Electronic) for a price in cash or kind. An issue like Paid News disrupts the level playing field and circumvents the election expenditure limits. This creates a hurdle for the Election Commission of India (ECI) to conduct the smooth run-off elections in a free, fair and transparent manner.

Role of Media: We are evident of the present scenario where media is promoting a particular party. It is a dangerous situation for the Indian democracy where the 4th pillar of the democracy is getting biased. Media personals are working on the agenda of some political parties to influence and manipulate the voter’s attention towards those political parties.

● Non serious Independent candidates are largely floated by serious candidates either to cut sizeable portion of votes of rival candidates or to split the votes on caste lines or to have additional physical force at polling station and counting centers.

Reforms Needed:

Political Parties under RTI:-Bringing the political parties under the Right to Information (RTI) Act

● The Election Commission should have a separate and independent election department to develop its objectivity and impartiality.

State Funding of Elections: System in which the State bears the election expenditure of political parties that are contesting elections. This can bring transparency in the funding process as public finance can limit the influence of interested donors’ money and thereby help curb corruption.

Simultaneous Polls: The time has come to implement simultaneous polls because of its underlying advantages including reducing the costs of holding elections by the ECI and spending by political parties.

Limit on Party Expenditure: There must be a limit on the expenditure of the party. A time frame must be set for accounting the expenditure of parties and must be made public before the actual date of elections so that the voters and the concerned authorities could be priorly informed.

● The apex court told the Central government that Election Commission should have people neutral to all political parties

● The Election Commissioners supervise and hold elections and play a greater role in strengthening democracy so their selection has to be made in the most transparent and fair manner.

● Introducing financial transparency and accountability in the working of the political parties.

● Electoral bonds will make ‘invisible money’ visible. These bonds will be bearer in character to keep the donar anonymous.

Transparency in Electoral Funding is necessary.

● The Budget proposed significant proposals to remove the limit of 7.5% on profits that a company can donate to a political party.

● The Budget also proposed to remove the requirement that the company making a donation to a political party discloses the name of the party and the amount donated.

● Election Commission wants the paid news to be made electoral offence.

Equal Space on Media:- All parties should be given equal media space or air time so as to provide a level playing field.

Limit on Party Expenditure: There must be a limit on the expenditure of the party. A time frame must be set for accounting the expenditure of parties and must be made public before the actual date of elections so that the voters and the concerned authorities could be priorly informed.

Self-Regulation by Political Parties: Political corruption should be stopped by providing funds to genuine candidates through political parties whose account should be auditable. Candidate involving in corruption should be disqualified.

Law Commission recommendations:

● The Law Commission recommended bringing political parties under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005

● The Law Commission studied the issue in 1998-99 and presented its comprehensive assessment and proposals in its 170th report, titled ‘Reform of the Electoral Laws’.

● The report said that, if democracy and accountability constitute the core of our constitutional system, the same concepts must also supply to and bind the political parties which are integral to parliamentary democracy.

● It is the political parties that form the government, man the Parliament and run the governance of the country.

● It is necessary to introduce internal democracy, financial transparency and accountability in the working of the political parties.

● The Law Commission issued another report (255th) in March 2015 wherein it talked about “Election finance reforms”.

● The 255th report contains valuable recommendations to reform the election finance system, but then there has to be a willingness to do so. The willingness seems to be to ensure anonymity.

Conclusion:

There is doubt that people vote for the identity and that identity is with the party and not with the candidate. The real politics is at the state level and it is of derivatives at the national level. In such case we must formalize the party vote and seek vote for the party on the basis of proportional representation. The share of votes is transferred into seats later.

Electoral politics and reforms
Electoral politics and reforms
Electoral politics and reforms
Electoral politics and reforms