Indian Election: Your View?

The World is going towards “Right”. Here right means Politically Right. Benjamin Netanyahu, along with his coalition partners, has secured majority in Israeli Parliament and will become the Prime Minister of the Jewish State for the fifth time. This term, in PM office, will make him the longest serving head of the state of Israel.

This incident of picking nationalist leader as head of the state is not an isolated event. Russia is ruled by hyper nationalist leader, Vladimir Putin. Sinzo Abe, the prime minister of Japan, has been elected by his citizens to lead the nation once again and he will be the longest serving Prime Minister of Japan if he completes his term.

India is also headed for Federal Election and first phase is scheduled from tomorrow. Media all over the world has termed current Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a Right Wing Nationalist leader, which incidentally shares the good rapport with all the three leaders, which I mentioned above.

Can we draw some parallel from all the elections and their outcomes, which has held recently in those countries? Is Narendra Modi slated to become the Prime Minister of India once again?

Or is it a too difficult call to predict the outcome of an election of a nation, which is so diverse in every realm be it social, regional, religious etc. Opinion Polls are giving majority to NDA and BJP is being predicted as Single Largest Party. But opinion polls in India are also subjected to various debates. At times, it turned out to be façade.

Anyway, the result will be declared on 23rd  of May and things will be crystal after that.  

But since I know that my fellow blogger belongs from different part of the nation, and some are even from abroad. So I would like to know their views about current election. Who is winning? What are the Surprises that we can expect? Who will be King Maker? What are the issues which will influence the mood of the Nation?

Be assured that by giving your opinion neither I nor others will label you as Bhakt or Congressi Chamchaa. As the one who will use either of these words, must fall on the other category. At a time when Media seems to be sold out, Independent Analysis by non Media person can help us to see clearer picture. So have your say!!!

Jai Hind!!!

Lowdown of Simultaneous Election

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When it comes to the celebration of festivals, probably no other country in the world can beat us in terms of sheer numbers which we have here in India. The dates of our annual calendar are always filled with colours, signifying one festival or the other. Festivals are generally a cultural and historical attribute of the society. But they are not only restricted to these aspects. Like other democracies, we have political festivals too in the form of elections, but here also we outnumber the other democracies.

We have adopted three tier of government in our polity. First at Central level, next at state level and third at local level. To elect the representatives of all three levels we have separate elections of Parliament, state legislature and to the Urban Local Bodies (ULB) and Panchayats. In recent years, on an average we had two elections each year and many ULB elections. To conduct an election is a massive exercise in India, reasons are: humongous size of country as a whole as well as states (many of them are large than many European Countries), diverse population, administrative and infrastructural cost and many more.

 So the idea to conduct simultaneous election has been in and around in past also. But recent aggressive push by current government under the stewardship of Prime Minister has made the pitch higher. The only difference in the demand of holding simultaneous election is that the PM has pitched to hold the election of all three elections at one shot including Panchayats.

What’s the history?

Simultaneous Election is not a new concept to India. We had first general election in 1951-52. After the first Parliamentary Election, we had the simultaneous election to the parliament and state legislature till next three times also i.e. in 1957, 1962 and 1967. After 1967 general election, the stronghold of single party domination in India got loosened in few states and it gave the space to the regional parties. But at few occasions regional parties formed coalition government which did not complet its full terms and resulted in premature dissolution. Same thing happened to the Central Government in 1970 and due to lack of majority the Parliament, it got dissolved and fresh elections were held in 1971. Since then the sync which has prevailed over the Parliament and state election finally broken and we reached at point where every year we have more than one elections.

Argument for Simultaneous Election:

The proponent of the joint election rightly points out several benefits. One of the major flaws of having multiple elections, they say, is that it always keeps the government in “Election Mode” and they are hardly able focus on governance. Every election to the state is seen by the political analysts and commentators as the litmus test and they term them as quarter final, semi final to the General Election. In democracy no party wants to lose the momentum, hence government indulges themselves to the populism leaving space of prudence in governance.

When election dates are declared, Model Code of Conduct (MCC) comes in to force, where there are several restrictions on government to announce or materialize the schemes for the welfare of the people. Having multiple elections means several MCC and government find themselves hamstrung.

Conducting various elections means administrative as well as financial burden on the limited resource of the country. Requirement of the relocation of police force, election equipments, and mobilization of district administration is cumbersome as well as costly.

Government Teacher plays a very crucial role in conducting the election. But this is not their primary task. It affects the education of the students of the government schools who are already at the disadvantaged side due to several limitations when compared to their counter part of private schools.

There is no doubt that election commission as well as government is trying very hard to reduce the corruption in the election, but despite of several measures, corruption is rampant in election. Money power speaks loudly during the election. Hence more election means more use of dirty money and more loss to democratic ethos.

Frequent Elections also disrupts the normal life by suspending or affecting the supplies of the essential commodities, by jamming the traffic for election rallies, huge rise in noise pollution etc.

One of the debilitating features of the Indian election is that many parties tries to divide the society on  caste, communal, gender line etc. for their vested interest of winning the election, which is highly undesirable for the social fabric of life. When more election happens there are more chances of division in the society.

So keeping all these points in mind, holding simultaneous election seems plausible and desirable thing to ponder upon.

Ideas against it:

Former Chief Election Commissioner S Y Qureshi has notably mentioned that “Having simultaneous election is desirable but not feasible”. There are multiple constitutional, practical and administrative restriction prevents this idea from materializing. Indeed, the concerns are genuine.

The first concern is that it negates the principle of Parliamentary Democracy (PD) and Constitution. In Indian PD a government at center is entitled for five year of governance if they secure majority and can dissolve it according to the whim of the ruling party and can be removed by passing no confidence motion. This idea is true as well for the state legislature. So when holding both election will be materialize, this principle has to die down.

The second concern is that this is against the idea of Federalism. Imagine a situation when no party will be able to secure majority in the state election and neither nay coalition government is formed, then according to prevailing procedure President Rule will be applied. So will the President rule be for the entire five year period when the next election will be held? And what if the Central Government falls in mid way? All the 29 state would have to go in for the election again, even when there is a stable government in states?

The next concern is that, state and national issues are different and hence the elections are held differently. But according to IDFC, a research institute, there has been a tendency with the voter that they increasingly vote for the same party if the elections are held together. In recent times that number is about 77% percent which is huge. Keeping this figure in mind, it appears that it will only help the national party and the regional party will be seriously disadvantaged and which is against Democratic Principle which provides level playing field for other.

The other advantage of the separate election is that it keeps the government at toes all the time and prevents them from being despotic through the exercise of their voting power. Last but not the least is the concern of “Political Consensus” on such a contentious issue which needs Constitutional Amendment.

Expert and Panels opinion:

Way back in 1999 Law Commission in its 170th report on “Electoral Reform” has suggested the idea of Simultaneous Election. Though, it was kept in cold storage since then. Recently Parliamentary Standing committee setup for the specific purpose also suggested the holding up simultaneous election but with some modification and further suggestions. Out of many, one is of having state election twice, one with parliament and other in midterm of it. Former President Shri Pranab Mukharjee, while addressing joint session of parliament, also opined in favour of simultaneous election.

So overall we can see that there are numerous benefits lies in holding all the elections at one go, but there are genuine and serious challenges occupies in its implementation which certainly can’t be ignored. The most serious challenge is the constitutional, challenge to the idea of Parliamentary Democracy and Federalism. But looking as a whole, the benefits outnumber the challenges. Prior to GST, Centre had different tax means and the state had different ones. Post implementation GST is touted as “One Nation, One Tax and One Market”, which apparently can be seen as from being a federal subject to Central Subject. Now both are clubbed together for the benefit of both and all party came to consensus along with states,  what we call it a greatest example of co-operative federalism.

Same idea and principle should be applied here. A rigorous discussion and deliberation should be held inviting all the stake holders which includes all the political parties (including regional ones), member from the academia, civil societies, expert from the constitutional realm and if needed foreign experience should also be taken in account. Finally, to quote Victor Hugo “no force on earth can stop an idea, whose time has come” seems quite reasonable here. The whole idea of democracy hinges on consensus, we have to see that are we able to reach to consensus on this idea or not?

Contesting Election and EDUCATION

India boasts itself as one of the largest democracies of the world. We have achieved remarkable feet by remaining a democratic country even after more than 70 years post independence. The country which was separated from us never saw a prime minister for full term. Dictatorship remained a constant feature of our eastern neighbor.

We cherish our democracy. One of our main features of our democracy is that we remained a vibrant republic. There are various experiments done in our system of governance. Some are, giving universal adult franchise to every citizen above certain age, treating women equal to men since inception, at least, in political realm, three tier system of governance etc. These innovations have helped us to become mature in our form of governance.

Few years back Rajasthan government also made some innovation. It barred people from contesting election in Urban and Local Bodies Bodiesn  (ULB i.e. Gram Panchayat and Municipality) who didn’t had certain educational qualification. One more reason for their denial to contest elections was unavailability of toilets in their homes. This simply means that only those people who posses certain minimum educational qualification (10th or 12th in some cases) can contest an election and can become representative of the common mass.

At first it sounds awesome. Rationale behind electing an educated person can be many. Some of them would be:

**There is direct relationship between education and development. More educated person can introduce more reform and in turn, more development
**Educated leaders can handle the complex bureaucratic system much better.
** He would be aware of various initiatives which is benefitting people around the world and he can use it for development of its subject
**Running an institution involves following many rules, regulations and procedures. Educated people can perform this initiative much better
**India is still struggling with many prejudices, such as caste, creed, gender etc. Educated representative can bring reform in the society.
**Those who are educated at the helm would know the importance of education better and hence can make necessary condition for education of the society.

Benefits of educated person in leadership position can be long and unending. So it seems right to prevent the uneducated from ruling the society.

But recently a new Party has occupied the majority (with outside support from Independents and some small players) in Rajasthan assembly. They have issued Notification and scraped the law of this educational criteria. Now even an illiterate can Run and win election.

For many of the common citizens, this decision is baffling. Yet, those who scraped the previous law has some healthy arguments in favour for doing away with the previous law which disenfranchised uneducated members for contesting election. They gave the rationality that why uneducated people should not be debarred from contesting election

It’s against the spirit of democracy. Our constitution guarantees political equality. But, if we set criteria for contesting election based on educational qualification, then this will be a type of Discrimination.

It also takes away the right of people to elect representative according to their own will.

To run a government political and administrative acumen is more needed than educational qualification.

In many parts of rural areas more than 50% of the people are uneducated or not meeting the criteria set by the law. So they will be left out of the process.

It is discriminating against the marginalized section of society especially against women and backward section of society because the lack of education is much  prevalent among them.

The purpose of Panchayti Raj Institution (PRIs) was to involve the general public directly in administrative process, because they know the ground reality more than other forms of government, hence they can reach to solution more effectively. But this disenfranchisement will defeat the purpose.

Last, but very significant argument was that if the people remained uneducated for more than 70 years even after the independence, it is not the failure of people, it’s the failure of the state. Hence why people should be punished for the failure of the state.

So, I presented the both aspects of the disenfranchising uneducated people from contesting election. At times, it seems both arguments hold their fort according to Perspective from which we see. But it is equally true that at one time only one set of law can be applied on any state or region.
I would like to know your opinion on this subject matter. What do you feel about “Should uneducated person be our leader”?
Shoot your valuable comments below and give your perspective in this regard.

 

Ye Public Hai, Sab Janti hai?

Since past few months we were hearing high-pitched allegations that “Pradhanmantri Chor hai”. Whole election campaign for recently held elections were primarily made against BJP on this ground. Among other factors, these allegations resulted in the loss of BJP in three Hindi Heartlands.

Now Honorable Supreme Court came up a verdict that there were no case of corruption in this deal and there is no substantial evidence of favoritism, Which Rahul Gandhi and his congress party were labeling against the government.

I think this is a prime example of a popular cliché “Justice Delayed is Justice Denied.” Now Congress government will rule for five years in these states. What about people those who believed in those allegations and voted for Congress (or against BJP)? What about those leaders who made false allegations and tarnished the image of Prime Minister and his party? Should they be go unpunished? If it would be the case, then labeling false allegations will rampant, as we already have since the arrival a political party in Delhi. You know what I mean? Don’t You?

I have heard a song, and probably you all would have listened it “Ye public hai sab janti hai” (This is Public, that knows everything). I vehemently disagree with this.

Ye Public hai aur ye kuch bhi nahi Janti hai, sirf murkh banti hai aur banayi jatti hai.

The Transformation?

Might is always right. Victory covers all your incompetence.Till yesterday, an Indian leader ridiculed and belittled by millions, became an overnight hero. The transformation from “Pappu” to “Param Pujya” is indeed baffling for me. To win an election in India doesn’t need competence. If that could have mattered, I find Sachin Pilot, Jyotiraditya Scindhia, Sashi Tharoor, JayRam Ramesh and many other more befitting to be the leader of opposition by a democratic election. But we are in India. Development matters least to electorate. If it could have mattered,Lalu Yadav could not be the CM for three consecutive terms while indulging in all corruption cases. Her wife, a highly in competent lady couldn’t have became the CM.

In India to win election you have to be good at numbers. How many Muslims, Dalits, OBCs, Brahmins are there in which constituency? You must know this. Are there any possibilities of communal right that can be fanned before election, yes, this also forms possible criteria, if you want to polarize the elections in your favor.

Britishers were intelligent, not because they had Industrial Revolution much before anywhere else in the world but because they knew Divide and Rule policy. Indians were ruled by many invaders not because we lacked strength or capacity to defeat them, but because we had championed the art to remain divided in all situations.

Divided by castes, Ruled by others. This seems to be driving motto of our civilisation from ancient past.