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!

Proportional Representation – An Idea Whose Time Has Come

dir="ltr">This week, following the Election Commission’s recommendation, the Union government enhanced the election expenditure limits of candidates. For major states, the ceiling for  Assembly now is Rs. 10 lakhs (Rs. 6 lakh earlier), and for Lok Sabha it is  Rs. 25 lakhs (Rs. 15 lakh earlier). This revision became necessary with the recent change of law which plugged the loophole by including party expenditure in ceiling limits. Electioneering costs money, and the new legislation created tax incentive for legitimate funding for political activity.

A Vital First Step in Cleansing Our Polity

dir="ltr">A recent vital piece of legislation relating to political funding went largely unnoticed in media and political circles. The Election and Other Related Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2003 (Bill No. 18 of 2003) was approved by both Houses of Parliament in August 2003, and became law in September with the assent of the President. In any other functioning democracy, such a law would have been hailed as a major reform, and dominated public discourse for months. The deafening silence on the subject in India is a sad reflection of the quality of public discourse.

Electoral System and Communal Divide

dir="ltr">The recent bomb blasts in Mumbai, and the death and devastation that followed brought home to us once again the

Psephological Pscripts and Pshifts

Predicting election results has become a fascinatingly hazardous business for many.  The latest elections yielded outcomes that none of the opinion polls, exit polls or even the internal party polls had predicted.  Especially the results for the Lok Sabha.  At the end of all this drama and hungama, there are two very interesting and significant points that we should keep in mind.

Fair Fight is no Trite Affair

In a couple of months time, we will witness the launch of the largest sports competition in history:  Summer Olympics 2004.   Within a couple of days, India, herself, will launch the largest electoral competition in human history.  They are the General Elections 2004.

The Case of the Missing TV Ads

Since the run-up to the elections for the five state assemblies four months ago, we have seen the emergence of a variety of colourful political advertisements on the TV.  But recently, the Election Commission (EC) had, very curiously, ordered that paid political advertisements should not be aired on cable and satellite TV channels.

Political Parties, Don’t Herd, Just be Heard!

The Discovery or National Geographic channels regularly show us scenes of animal herding behaviour:  the impala gazelles grazing and migrating in their thousands on the African Savanna.  Or the masses of penguins gathering to raise their young on the cold, rocky shores near the tip of South America.  Now, maybe, Hyderabad should be added to the list of favourite herding sites.  Not for wild animals, but for humans.  More precisely, for human beings who can vote.

Opposition to Disclosure – Defense of the Indefensible ?

The March 13 verdict of the Supreme Court (SC) on candidate disclosures declaring Section 33B of the Representation of the People (3rd Amendment) Act, 2002 (Amendment Act) illegal, null and void, and reiterating its earlier judgment on May 2, 2002, generated a serious countrywide debate on the jurisdiction of courts.

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.