Article by Prof. Gourango Chakraborty President of Swaraj Abhiyan West Bengal : A Brief Outline of Electoral Reforms Required for Effective and Meaningful Democracy in India – Part 2

Article by Prof. Gourango Chakraborty President of Swaraj Abhiyan West Bengal : A Brief Outline of Electoral Reforms Required for Effective and Meaningful Democracy in India – Part 2

A Brief Outline of Electoral Reforms Required for Effective and Meaningful Democracy in India – Part 2

Multi-day Online/Electronic Voting

To relieve the people from electoral sins, to ensure low-cost voting and to encourage 100% participation in the democratic process

Multi-day voting is an alternative scientific voting system under which a voter instead of traditionally voting on one fixed day in a Parliamentary or Assembly constituency from a fixed voting centre, can vote during a period of voting from any voting centre or from own work place or from residence in India or abroad through multiple electronic devices freely and fearlessly, as and when he/she desires, with the help of a fool-proof and secured hi-tech mechanised Voting and Election Monitoring system.

The application of modern advanced technology for voting will open up a new horizon in the field of electoral reforms for land-mark achievement in (a) low-cost voting (b) stopping electoral malpractices, political interference, hooliganism etc. (c) promoting voters’ confidence in free and fair election and (d) encouraging larger participation of voters in the election of representatives, for a meaningful and effective functioning of democracy.

The system may be operated in the following manner:

1. Fixation of voting period, say one week.

2. Fixation of voting hours – 10 AM to 5 PM. No holiday for voting.

3. Fixed voting centres for the period of voting, say Panchayat and Municipal offices.

4. Arrangement for a Secret Unique Election Identity No. with photo and fingerprint identity.

5. Mechanized voting from fixed voting centres or from places other than fixed voting centres.

6. Voting with the help of unique election identities under supervision of Central Election Monitoring System; no option for counting votes on any day.

5. Centralized mechanical counting on one day only for the whole country.

6. Detailed mechanism to be worked out with the help of modern technology.

States may also adopt multi-day voting system and State Election Monitoring System may be devised.

State Funding and Equitable Public Media Facility

To fight against money and muscle-power and to finish the black-money game

To allow the media to act as watch-dog, not king-maker

It has been found in many cases that money and muscle power act as the deciding factor in elections. Elections are fought with money which in turn creates representatives chosen on basis of their money-power. The money used is black money and plays a disastrous role in election-campaigns. Muscle-power is an unholy associate of money.

Media plays an important role in electioneering and public awareness campaigns. Unfortunately, political interference and partiality in the functioning of public media and the misuse of private media by resourceful parties/candidates doom healthy election campaign.

Some drastic steps like state funding of elections and provision of equitable public media facility are necessary as a part of electoral reforms. Disciplinary provisions are necessary in public interest for functioning of private media during the period of election.

It is necessary to determine the criteria on the basis of which parties/candidates may derive benefit of state funding and media coverage.

Overhauling Democratic Representation System

To have a total change of the defective system and to reject eye-wash or patch-work reforms

Electoral reforms cannot be complete without appropriate steps for re-hauling the democratic representation system. The existing system is defective. Steps so far taken in the name of electoral reforms are merely patch-works to purify a defective system. Therefore, desired results have not followed. What is required is re-hauling of the old and worn-out system to make it an effective tool for participatory democracy from the lowest stratum of the democratic system.

Ensuring Majority Representation of a Constituency

1. Votes cast to be not less than 51% of the total number of voters.
2. Elected candidate to receive not less than 51% of the votes cast.
3. Votes cast below 51% of total number of voters in a constituency to be declared Reluctant and Unrepresented.
4. A second-time voting is to be arranged preferably with fresh nominations.

Encouraging Preferential Voting System 

Cleansing Electoral Dirt

1. Avoid Agents.

2. Instant finger print and photo-identity.

3. CCTV and video-recording.

4. No camp and no voter-slip by parties.

5. NOTA to be made effective from Panchayat level to national level.

6. Literacy drive and voters’ education.

7. Educational and other qualifications to be fixed for nomination from Panchayat to national level.

8. Public debate amongst parties and candidates (the programme may be called Know your Party (KYP) Know Your Candidate (KYC).

9. Directive principles of democratic functioning by political parties relating to:

(a) Internal democracy

(b) Transparency (all donations to party-funds to be made in digital format)

(c) Accountability

(d) Disclosure

(e) Parliamentary training for party workers

10. One-time parliamentary & assembly election for 3/4 year term preferably under Advisory Council headed by President/Governor.

11. Such Advisory Council to be formed 60 days before election with provision for contesting election for two terms only.

11. Party-less democracy to be made effective through party-less Panchayati system upto Gramsabha.

At the lowest level of the democratic representation i.e. at gramsabha level, voters generally know each other and any political division is counterproductive and leads to social tension and breach of social amity. Thus party-less democracy upto gramsabha level may be considered to be the best available option for the socio-democratic environment of the country.

Compulsory Voting by Citizens

Ensuring 100% participation of citizens in democratic functioning

Application of voting-right is to be made mandatory by law in order to ensure 100% participation of citizens in democratic functioning of the country. It can be expected that in a democratic set-up citizens having right to vote should have an obligation to apply their voting right. Non-application of voting right should be made a punishable offence. At the same time causes for low turn-out in elections and public grievances relating to electoral practices must be duly looked into in order to encourage and ensure whole-hearted participation of all Indian citizens in the largest democracy of the world. Compulsory voting system will bring about social equity & balance and will lead to better political screening and adjustability. The same electoral cost would establish a better democratic society. Peoples’ acquired right to NOTA must, however, remain unaffected.

Photo credit: Tribune

AUTHOR: Gourango Chakraborty
President of Swaraj Abhiyan West Bengal

The author’s views are personal.