Limit Contest to One Seat, or Make Them Pay

dir="ltr">Under the current law a candidate can contest from two constituencies, but has to vacate one of the seats within ten days - necessitating a by-election. The Election Commission’s (EC) proposal to bar a candidate from contesting in more than one constituency, or seek reimbursement of the expenditure for holding the by-election is perfectly reasonable and fair.

The merit of this proposal could be enhanced by not limiting it to only vacation of a seat upon being elected to two seats in the same House but extending it to occasions when:

 

 

Priceless Opportunity Squandered by Nitpicking

dir="ltr">The recent enforcement of a ban on political advertisements on television raised some controversy. The Election Commission (EC) and the Union Government are busy throwing blame on each other for this ban. Irrespective of who is right, or wrong, this ban raises several fundamental questions about our democracy and nature of political campaigning. We need to address and resolve them speedily.

Distorted Verdicts and Simple Solutions

dir="ltr">The impending elections to Legislative Assemblies in four major states, the dissolution of AP Assembly and the approaching Lok Sabha elections have significantly increased the political temperature in the country. While there is a natural curiosity about the outcome of these elections, most people’s concern is somewhat superficial. The general feeling is that the choice in most cases is between Tweedledom and Tweedledee, and much of the discussion is to whet our gamblers’ instincts – predicting who will win, and who will lose!

People’s Verdicts and Political Shenanigans

The continuing political uncertainty in Jammu and Kashmir after the courageous participation of voters, braving bullets and bombs, once again exposes the shenanigans of our politicians.  The murky politics of power and dissidence in our largest state of UP too expose the increasing divorce between people’s mandates and government formation.

 

A Welcome, Though Belated Initiative

The sub-continental air is thick with elections. With polls completed successfully in the troubled state of Jammu and Kashmir, elections being held at last in Pakistan giving democracy a modest chance, and Gujarat poll dates to be announced soon, there is talk of political competition and elections everywhere. But the middle classes in the sub-continent in general are showing enormous contempt for the political process. There is very unhealthy cynicism and dangerous yearning for authoritarian solutions.

Distancing People from Politics

The government and political parties have acted with uncharacteristic speed and dynamism to thwart the disclosure provisions ordered by the Election Commission (EC). The chain of events starting with the Supreme Court judgment on May 2, and culminating with a draft bill circulated by government on July 15 is revealing. Suddenly, the political consensus, which eludes the nation even in testing times, resurfaced! All parties seem to be more or less unanimous that candidates for elective office must not be forced to disclose their criminal record and financial details.

Political Process – Problem or Solution?

On June 28, the Election Commission gave effect to an earlier judgement of the Supreme Court by making candidates’ disclosure of criminal record, educational qualifications and financial details mandatory. This was based on the Supreme Court’s decision that the electors have a right to know about the candidate whom they choose for public office. As the Court pointed out, the Commission has the authority to act under Article 324 of the Constitution, and wherever there is void in legislation, it ought to step in.

A Time to Applaud and Follow the Lead

The gruesome tragedy in Nepal and the excitement of the Indo-Pak summit have pushed other potentially far reaching developments from the front pages.  The 9-member committee report on Congress Fund Raising by Dr Manmohan Singh is of fundamental importance to the polity.  The Singh Committee recommended raising a corpus of Rs 50 crore to meet the recurrent party annual expenditure of about Rs 5 crore.  The Congress Working Committee accepted the suggestion and decided to raise money only by cheques hereafter.

Citizen assertion is the key to change

The recent Supreme Court judgment on compulsory declaration of criminal record, assets, liabilities and educational qualifications by candidates for elective office is a shot in the arm for all enthusiasts of democratic reform.  There is a German saying which describes politics as the patient drilling through thick planks.  This judgment typifies the hard work and collaboration required to get anything moving in a large and plural democracy. Relentless and single-minded pursuit of specific goals is what yields enduring results.

Elections and Voters’ Lists

Elections to MCH are round the corner. After a long gap of 15 years, blatant violation of the Constitution and a judicial directive, elections have been finally announced! Elections are vital to democracy. Unfortunately our electoral process is severely flawed. I am not talking merely of inducements, impersonation, intimidation, and myriad other things we talk of in our drawing rooms - but of flaws in the electoral rolls. Electoral rolls are the heart of an election and if they are flawed the whole process is perverted.