Friday, September 6, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Looking beyond Ordinance: gaps between political thinking & silent majority

Mr Hari Jaisingh’s article “Looking beyond poll ordinance — gaps between political thinking & the silent majority” (August 30) is quite near reality. There are many loopholes in our democratic system. In the true sense of the term, our legislators and parliamentarians very often do not represent the will of the electorate. Our politicians are conscious of their vote banks and they weigh developmental activities in their respective areas and constituencies in terms of their vote banks.

Many systems and programmes in this country have become outdated and obsolete. Though old, these systems and programmes have a bearing on their vote banks. That is why they cling to these and pay little attention to the more pressing problems of the country. Initially, our Constitution makers had introduced the system of reservations to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in jobs and admissions to schools and colleges for a limited period of 10 years. However, reservations are continuing even after over five decades and these have been extended to more communities. Even those who have come above the poverty line and well-off among them enjoy the benefits.

It is hoped the opinion polls conducted among the people can go a long way in sorting out the vexed issues. The representatives should act on the lines of these opinion polls. They must be responsive to the wishes of the people. Otherwise, the democratic set up will remain a hoax and a farce — proving to be an exercise in futility. The poetic outbursts of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee need to be translated into action.

IQBAL SINGH, Bijhari (H.P.)


KEEP IT OUT OF PURVIEW: This refers to Mr Hari Jaisingh’s article. The main objection of the politicians is that the Returning Officer, being ill-equipped to verify the correctness of the affidavits of the candidates regarding their assets and liabilities and criminal antecedents, should not be vested with the power to reject the nomination papers. Here is a suggestion. The candidates should declare their assets and liabilities and their criminal antecedents at the time of filing their nominations so that the information is available for use by the rival candidates and the electorate during the election campaign. The question of its verification be kept out of the purview of the Returning Officer which could be decided upon in due course by a competent court of law through an election petition.

If political parties are really sincere, they should have no objection to the suggestion and readily agree to incorporate the same in the Ordinance at the time of its legislation in Parliament.

Wg-Cdr C.L. SEHGAL (retd), Jalandhar

SELF-SERVING LEADERS: The Tribune Editor has quite aptly summed up the mindset of our present-day politicians when he says, “... the sane voices invariably fall on the deaf ears of the power-wielders.” Criminalisation of politics has made the system of patronage and self-aggrandisement so strong and deep-rooted that they now bother not whether such saner voices (observations, suggestions and instructions) come from the President, the Supreme Court or from the generally silent masses — their so-called electors.

It is no secret that every political party and the majority of politicians thrive on mafia support in their unscrupulous loot of the public exchequer and taming of their vote banks. In their mad race for power crumbs and comforts, critical national issues and burning regional problems form no priority for these worthy servants of the people.

The life of deprivation that almost half of our population is forced to live, and their crying woes constitute no agenda of these self-serving leaders hiding their heart and mind behind their ‘spotless white attire’.

But the issue is whether the nation should allow such self-serving and self-eulogising leaders to form a ‘unanimity of convenience’ and ignore the Supreme Court’s instructions and even reject the President’s suggestion of eliminating criminals from politics and heralding a political climate of honesty and fearlessness. But it would also be living in a fool’s paradise to hope that a murderer would pass a judgement of self-conviction and sign his own death sentence.

The only solution to cleansing the politics of the corrupt and the criminal lies in awakening the masses through media and education. Let our people learn that a democracy of the illiterate and unawakened masses is either an autocracy of the elected few or it is an anarchy which we might perhaps be heading towards.


Prescription for electoral reforms

This has reference to Mr Hari Jaisingh’s article on poll ordinance (August 30). We shall have to bring revolutionary changes in our system. Some of these changes are as follows. At least graduation should be the minimum qualification for a candidate to contest an election. He should possess a fitness certificate from the Civil Surgeon of the area in which he resides. He should possess a character certificate issued by the District Magistrate where he had been residing for the last ten years. The candidate should be within 40-65 years and no one should be in the House beyond 70 years. He should be a nominee of a political party or alliance and there should be no independents in the elections.

All political parties and alliances should declare their ‘shadow cabinets’ before the elections. They should inform the voters about the qualifications, experience and expertise of the candidates to help people make an informed choice.

Only those candidates should be allowed to have a second term if they had functional participation in the House. People who never spoke a word in the House should not be given tickets for a second term. We should make every MLA/MP in the House to work. We can allot them work either individually or in groups and they must be directed to submit their reports within six months. These reports may be discussed and adopted, if these are beneficial for the nation as a whole.

When a vacancy occurs in the House, there should be no byelection to fill in the vacancy. Instead, the work of that constituency should be given to the MLA/MP of the neighbouring constituency. The House/Houses should never be dissolved before their full five-year term.

We should start appointing ministers from the Opposition groups, if adequate number of experts are not elected from the ruling party.

There is a need to streamline the functioning of the houses. The Opposition should come forward with written objections for discussion in the House. Walkouts should be banned. When one member is speaking, the other should not be allowed to stand and speak. There should be clear-cut rules on their conduct and behaviour. Ours is a civilised society and our representatives must act in a civilised manner.



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