EC rules should have no lacuna
Nothing should dampen the spirits of the Election Commission (EC) in its endeavour to ensure clean election. Prompt action should be taken against those accused of disregarding and failing to abide by the model code of conduct, as this will act as a deterrent for others who are contemplating similar action.
The Election Commission norms and guidelines should be without lacuna for the purpose of strict adherence. Only those persons who have proper qualifications, proven ability and a clean record should be allowed to file nomination papers for the Assembly or Parliament seats. The police should be on the lookout for persons with criminal record who have filed nomination papers.
If permission for going abroad or appearing in any interview cannot be granted to a person against whom any case is pending in any court, then how can that person be given permission to contest elections and run the affairs of the country? Only a person with good qualification and a clean image can represent his or her constituency in the required manner. Poll campaign should only be allowed to be organised from a common platform.
All candidates from a constituency should use this common platform for highlighting their poll agenda. Their lust for wining standing ovation would be gratified when they come up on this common platform, in full view of the voters. Distribution of money, liquor and clothes with a view to buying votes needs to be curbed by bringing in a new law. Holding of massive rallies that disrupt traffic, splashing walls with posters and loudspeakers blaring at full blast to the discomfort of the public should be completely banned. No person while holding an office should be allowed to contest any election, to stop him or her from misusing his or her powers.
Dr SUSHIL RATTAN,
Make photo I-cards mandatory
The elections in our country are not clean and the elections to Parliament, state Assemblies and all other bodies are fought and won on the basis or muscle and money power, which is due to mass illiteracy, poverty and corruption. The root of unclean elections lies not only in the system of elections but also in the conduct of the candidates, who indulge in various unwarranted and unethical practices to win. To streamline the election system, the possession of a photo identity card should be made mandatory for the electorate. All other proofs of identity should be discarded straightway.
All staff supervising voting inside polling booths should be from outside the state. To tackle law and order problems, the usual police strength outside the polling booths should be increased and only electronic voting machines (EVMs) should be used inside for voting so as to eliminate any chance of manipulation.
The model code of conduct promulgated by the Election Commission should be implemented in letter and spirit by all candidates and parties. The law should be amended to award only rigorous imprisonment to the violators of the model code of conduct. Besides making elections clean, there is utmost necessity of prescribing a maximum age limit and minimum academic qualification for the candidates. Only energetic and educated people can deliver a good performance. Any person with criminal background should be debarred from contesting any elections in life.
D. P. JINDAL,
Give voters right to recall representatives
Democracy is a voice of revolt against despotism, coercion, imposition and arbitrary authority. But it has become otherwise in our country because of the mushrooming growth of political parties, which are indispensable for a democratic system. So the bi-party system should be adopted to make the elections clean.
Election campaigns have become extremely expensive. Today's politicians spend extravagant amounts on their election campaigns. As a result, wise, sagacious, honest and intelligent persons are not able to contest elections; only men of power and pelf win and afterwards indulge flagrantly in money making. Hence the state should provide funds for elections to check the misuse of money, which is used to influence voters.
The misuse of government machinery should be banned and the candidates seeking votes in the name of caste, creed, religion, language, etc. should be disqualified. Besides, there should be a provision for recalling the elected representatives if they fail to perform in deference to the wishes of voters. Voters should be given the right to know the antecedents of the prospective candidates, and criminals should never be allowed to contest. A large number of people who abstain from voting give advantage to anti-social and dubious candidates. So voting should be made compulsory. The Election Commission should take stringent action against those who indulge in rigging and booth capturing, and deter the law-abiding citizens from exercising their franchise. A proper revision of voters' lists should be done from time to time.
TARSEM S. BUMRAH,
Media must play active role
We all are proud of our largest democracy and its periodical elections, which are admired as the largest exercise of its kind in the world. But the sad side of our democracy is that the kind of firm leadership that we had in the past is nowhere to be seen now. If the leaders of the past underwent prison or fought for the rights of people, the politicians of today have been convicted because of corruption and their involvement in crime.
To improve the election process, I suggest the following steps: First, the media being the biggest source of mass communication should portray the election scenario in an unbiased manner. It should educate people about where our leaders have gone wrong and found to be corrupt. It should also play a substantial role in making the voters informed about the antecedent of candidates. Second, the Election Commission should improve the electoral system by making the election process more transparent so that the influence of tainted money and muscle power do not make a mockery of democracy. Third, the Election Commission should check the rising violence and expenditure during the elections. There should also be some age limit for politicians. Often, people above the age of 60 are not issued driving licences. The logic, according to experts, is that the decision-making ability starts declining after the age of 60. But in our country, most of the leaders of this age are driving the government.
Give more teeth to EC
What else could be more disastrous for a country than her own lawmakers becoming lawbreakers themselves! This problem is further aggravating with the entry of tainted persons into the politics.
The most recent violations of the Model Code of Conduct by Railway Minister Laloo Prasad Yadav, former Defence Minister George Fernandes and Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala—ostensibly for an apparent favour in the forthcoming Assembly elections in Bihar, Jharkand and Haryana—are suggestive of the fact how helpless and jawless the Elections Commission has become today.
It is not the first time that such incidents have occurred. In the past, too, the politicians have exploited the existing loopholes in the prevailing laws at will, as and when they desired. The apparent reason for this mess is that these laws are not vigorously enforced. If this trend is allowed to go on unabated and the entry of politicians with criminal background is not checked, the day is not far away when the whole electoral system will collapse.
The need of the hour is to give more teeth to the EC, so that no politician escapes from the clutches of laws. When it comes to enforcing the effectively, the name of former Chief Election Commissioner T. N. Seshan, who was a terror in the minds of shrewd politicians, comes to mind. Before his tenure, many of us were not even aware of the existence of the Chief Election Commissioner. He successfully brought esteem and prestige to the coveted post of CEC. Today, we really need a man of his stature who can help reform the electoral process.
Confiscate black money
The following suggestions should be taken into consideration for making elections clean:
1. Unearth and confiscate black money, which is widely used for buying votes.
2. Educate the voters about the importance of voting.
3. Make politicians as well as voters law abiding.
4. Strictly apply the code of conduct and punish those who violate it.
5. Revise voters' lists in time to avoid bogus polling, and correct mistakes in the lists.
6. Prompt action by the judiciary, if any kind of violation is detected during elections.
7. Make photo I-cards mandatory.
8. Declare elections results in time.
Teach the coming generation about/Shortcomings which make the elections mean;/Young ones of today will grow up tomorrow,/ Shed the weakness and make the elections clean
Carry out drastic reforms
One can brag by calling India the largest democracy in the world. But the hard fact is: it is the worst democracy in the world. After 58 years of self-rule, its elected leaders have totally failed to eradicate poverty of its people. Also, India is known as one of the most corrupt countries in the world. Here more and more people continue to be jobless. It now has the most polluted air, rivers and all other natural resources. The law and order situation is worst then ever because its people are being mistreated, exploited and abused by their so-called elected representatives who are supposed to help and serve them.
It is a sham democracy. The current electoral system has become obsolete as it only helps the criminal, uneducated and incompetent in getting elected. Once they are in control, they use every opportunity to make money and help their kith and kin. After having amassed unaccountable wealth, they are above the law and never get punished for their corrupt deeds. Under these circumstances, it is impossible for bureaucrats and rest of the government machinery to do their jobs honestly. And the current electoral system is sole responsible for this whole mess.
It is high time that India should introspect and carry out drastic reforms in its electoral system. It should learn from successful democracies like the USA and the UK, where two-party system is working efficiently, keeping all dubious candidates out. This will definitely help improve the lot of the common man and make India strong politically and economically.
SUBHASH C. CHAUDHRY,
Bar criminals from contesting
The smooth functioning of a parliamentary democracy depends on free and fair elections that lend quality to the former. The question raised assumes significance in view of the forthcoming Assembly elections. Though the Election Commission is working hard in this direction, it cannot succeed unless all political parties and voters realise their responsibility. Some political parties try to grab power with the help of the money and musclemen. This is leading to criminalisation of politics. Black money plays a great role during elections. So drastic electoral reforms are the need of hour. The EC should not allow candidates to spend extravagant amounts on their election campaigns. The government should enact a law and ensure that criminals are barred from contesting elections. The Patna High Court has done well by observing that those lodged in jail do not have the right to vote and persons against whom a charge-sheet has been filed in relation to serious offences cannot contest elections. The main aim behind this observation is that lawbreakers should not become lawmakers. Above all, the people should assert themselves and cast their vote without any fear in favour of those candidates who are honest, educated, dedicated, committed and are the men of integrity. The voters must shut the doors on the criminal and the corrupt.
K. L. BATRA,
Make voting compulsory
A game can be fair only if the players are honest and true to its spirit. If they cheat, the game shall loose its sheen and the spectators will loose all interest in it. Similar is the case with elections. If the candidates are honest and committed to the good of the country, elections shall be fair and arouse the interest of the electorate. However, the present-day scenario is entirely different. With the politicians turning cheats and crooks, what good can be expected from them? Consequently, the electorate has lost all interest in voting. However, certain remedial steps can help improve the electoral system.
First, a training programme of 2-3 years duration should be made mandatory for all candidates whereby they would learn how to speak and behave like civilised persons. Moral education, good knowledge of country's history, the freedom struggle and geography should be made part of that training programme. Certain minimum marks in these subjects should be fixed to qualify for becoming a politician. Psychological tests should also be introduced to judge their overall personality. Second, voting should be made compulsory. Third, immigrants living in slum areas should not be allowed to vote at the place they have migrated to because it is a well known fact that these slum encroachments cannot be done away with, for they serve as vote banks for the politicians.
If implemented in true spirit, these steps shall go a long way to ensure free and fair elections, which form the cornerstone of democracy.
Prescribe minimum qualification
The root cause of all sorts of ailments that are dogging the electoral system in the country is illiteracy coupled with poverty. To make the electoral system meaningful and clean, some minimum qualification should be prescribed for candidates and voters. If done so, the people would be far less vulnerable to the dirty tricks employed by the wily politicians. Until we do away with the meaningless "mobocracy", which is being run by the Laloos, Rabris, Mayawatis, Mulayams, Paswans and many others like them who keep on befooling the masses and keep on creating the mess, we cannot have a meaningful democracy.
A. K. SHARMA,
Solution lies with people
Elections, which are one of the major pillars of a successful democratic set-up, can be made clean by electing highly educated, selfless leaders of a transparent image who have overwhelming social conscience. The Election Commission can also play an important role by setting up such norms of high repute. Bhai-type leaders should be discouraged in all respects. The everlasting measure to make elections clean is in the hands of people. They should become bold and fearless by rising above caste, creed and greed. They should be ready to face all kinds of consequences. Everyone, including politicians, should try to follow the steps of great leaders like Mahatma Gandhi. Only then can true democracy be achieved.
MOHINDER PAUL PAHUJA,