|Sunday, April 30, 2000,
No consensus on women's
NEW DELHI, April 29 Political parties today rejected suggestions of the Election Commission (EC) on fixing a percentage of tickets for women and debarring chargesheeted persons from contesting elections, while favouring the accepting of common rolls for all elections and empowering the EC to take action against erring poll staff.
The commissions effort to push political parties to initiate electoral reforms yielded moderate results at the end of a one-day meeting which was attended by representatives of eight national parties and 23 of the 25 state parties here today.
Briefing correspondents, Chief Election Commissioner M S Gill described the interaction as "a good meeting where many contentious issues were discussed".
The EC had sought views of parties on balancing of constituencies, altering provision on qualification for the Rajya Sabha, fixing percentage on allotment of tickets by parties to women, disciplinary jurisdiction of the EC over poll staff, criminalisation of politics and use of common electoral rolls in all elections.
On the issue of delimitation of constituencies, a task now frozen till 2026, the ECs suggestion for rationalisation of boundaries to remove distortions in terms of size was accepted by most parties but they did not favour the task of delimitation to be given to the EC.
The Congress said task should be done by a legally constituted commission. The BJP and Congress also suggested that the SC/ST seats must be rotated.
The commission's suggestion for an amendment in the Representation of the People Act enabling any person registered as a voter anywhere in India to contest the Rajya Sabha election from any state as is in the case of the Lok Sabha found favour. At the same time, the CPI-M, the CPI , the NCP and others said the suggestion would go against the federal structure of the Constitution as the Rajya Sabha is envisaged as the Council of States.
The Telugu Desam (TDP) and the BSP also suggested open voting for the Rajya Sabha elections to minimise cross voting.
A majority of political parties barring the Samajwadi Party and the Rashtriya Janata Dal, preferred to evolve a consensus on the Womens Reservation Bill providing for one-thirds seats in Parliament and the state legislatures.
The ECs suggestion for a law making it mandatory for all recognised political parties to set aside a specific percentage of tickets for women was not acceptable. "Both views were expressed and we feel that the discussion on womens Bill will go on", Dr Gill said summing up the discussion at the meeting. The BJP spokesman, Mr M Venkaiah Naidu, said the government had already introduced a Bill and would try to evolve a broad consensus while the Congress said the party stood committed to provide one-thirds reservation for women.
The CPI-M, the CPI and the NCP were of the opinion that the EC proposal would not ensure adequate reservation for women .
The ECs proposal for allowing it to take disciplinary action against officials placed under its disposal during poll found favour. After amendments were carried in the RPA in 1989, the EC censured some officials in 1993 for dereliction in election duties but the government said the EC had not power to do so. The EC then moved to the Supreme Court and the matter is pending there. The Congress said that the government should arrive at some solution in consultation with the EC on the subject.
On checking criminalisation in politics, the ECs suggestion that a persons against whom a court frames charges on any offence which is punishable with imprisonment for five years or more be disqualified to contest was rejected outright.
While the parties expressed support to check criminalisation of politics, they felt that such a rule could be misused.
There was near unanimity that the electoral rolls prepared by the EC annually should form the basis for holding all elections in the country and there was no need for the states to duplicate the effort for holding local bodies elections in order to reduce expenditure.
Views were also
expressed on proxy voting and identity card scheme with
Dr Gill hinting that after the success in the Haryana
Assembly elections, the use of ID cards in the assembly
elections of West Bengal, Kerala and Tamil Nadu could be
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