The term for a member of the Lok Sabha or the Legislative Assembly to remain in office for five years should be fixed. He should not be allowed to resign or change party during his tenure. If they resign, the runner-up should be given a chance to represent their constituency.
Published: June 28, 2022 07:18:05 pm
Columnists and political commentators political crisis in Maharashtra, shifting of MLAs from one resort to another, manipulative politics, allegations of use of money power and alleged misuse of central investigative agencies are some of the issues that show that How much our democratic institutions have been ridiculed. There is a dire and urgent need for electoral reforms in India. Anti-defection laws designed to prevent horse-trading of public representatives have lost their effectiveness, as seen recently in Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka. Allegations of horse trading are common. Even if a group of legislators may not have a two-thirds majority to disband the party, they wield their own interests by manipulating legal provisions. The extent was reached when Congress MLAs in these states resigned and they contested by-elections on the same seat on BJP ticket and the taxpayers were forced to bear the election expenses. Obviously we need to strengthen the electoral process.
There are currently eight national parties in India—BJP, Congress, NCP, Trinamool Congress, Bahujan Samaj Party, CPM, CPI and NPP (National People’s Party). The influence of the NPP is mostly in Meghalaya. Trinamool, NCP and CPM do not have any significant presence outside their home states of West Bengal, Maharashtra and Kerala respectively. In true sense, apart from the BJP and the Congress, no other party deserves to be a national party. National party status should be given only to the parties securing at least 5 per cent votes in the general elections. Only these national parties and regional parties should be allowed to contest the general elections which have secured minimum five per cent votes in any state elections. Yes, independents must be allowed to stand in any election. In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, 669 parties had contested.
At present, the maximum limit of expenditure for assembly elections is fixed at Rs 40 lakh and for Lok Sabha elections at Rs 95 lakh. Apart from this, the party can also spend huge amount on star campaigners. According to the Center for Media Studies (CMS), sixty thousand crore rupees were spent in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. This means that more than one hundred crore rupees were spent in one constituency. Now the simple question is that how can a common man, who has not got ticket from any well established party, contest elections? For the rich and famous, contesting elections has become like a ‘game’.
State funding for contesting elections can help reduce the impact of black money in elections and lead to a transparent funding mechanism. The change in the pattern of contesting elections will reduce the number of parties jumping in the election fray. So state funding will be needed. For a member of Lok Sabha or Vidhan Sabha, the period of honorable stay for five years should be fixed. He should not be allowed to resign or change party during his tenure. If he resigns, the runner-up should be given a chance to represent his constituency.
This is necessary to stop one party from leaving and switching to another and then contesting by-elections from another party. Many MLAs contest the Lok Sabha elections as candidates and if they win, the seat vacated by resignation has to be held. Elections are imposed on us and the cost of this by-election falls on the pockets of us taxpayers. As happened recently in Rampur, Azamgarh and Sangrur.
At present, the only means of registering a protest is NOTA (None of the Above). Even if the maximum number of votes are in favor of NOTA, the runner-up candidate is declared the winner. If NOTA gets the most votes, then there should be re-election. Candidates and parties securing less than NOTA votes should not be allowed to contest the next election from the same seat. The voting percentage in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections was less than 70. Citizens who have migrated to other cities for work and have their voter ID of their birthplace are not eligible to vote. The Election Commission should have the option of Aadhaar ID based e-voting. This has a strong potential to increase the voting percentage. Along with this, people should not be allowed to contest from two seats. Stop this. After all, they only represent one seat. There are re-elections on the second seat and there is an additional cost.
These measures should be approved that the political party leaving the seat will not be allowed to contest the by-election or will have to bear the expenses of the by-election. In such case the second place candidate should be declared the winner. Voters should also have the right to ‘recall’ recalled elected representatives. Should this right be exercised every year? I suggest that this right should be exercised after the completion of two and a half year term of MP or MLA. Should it be done on the basis of full poll or survey or opinion poll? These are some of the issues that can be resolved, outlined in detail. Such measures will motivate the non-performing honchos to formulate strong policies.
Electoral reforms have become necessary now