Total revamp of poll process need of the hour
Save Democracy' is the slogan of 21 Opposition parties which are up in arms against the NDA government. Certainly, they have a valid reason to be angry with the present dispensation. It is undisputable that the BJP-led NDA government talks of zero tolerance towards terrorism, but in practice there appears to be zero intolerance towards all those who dare to question the Centre or the Prime Minister.
The only time when this kind of zero intolerance was witnessed was during Emergency that was imposed by Indira Gandhi. While one cannot say with certainty that 'Ache Din' have arrived in the last five years but one can certainly say that 'kharab din' are being witnessed. While the issue of unemployment remains unresolved, the common man is suffering on account of burning a bigger hole in his pocket, thanks to the decisions taken by the Centre.
Secondly, the independent Constitutional bodies including the Election Commission have certainly failed in proper planning. Never did it happen that one State had to wait for results for 40 days after the polls are over. Which in effect means that the State administration goes for a toss for two months at a stretch.
Even law and order maintenance becomes a problem because the election code would be in vogue and the State government's hands would be tied for all practical purposes. Even if routine administration is attempted, the Opposition would rush to the EC and demand that they be stopped from doing so and under the present circumstances, particularly in Andhra Pradesh one would not be surprised if they say that no work should be done.
The EC, which should have at least apologised to the people for the way the EVMs and VVPATs did not function properly and polling got unduly delayed and went on till 4 am in certain places, instead patted its own back saying they did a good job and that was supported by the main Opposition. The people are now wondering whether the EC has become so toothless and failed or was it made to fail? It now remains to be seen how the second phase of polls would be conducted.
If similar problems are faced during this phase also, then it would strengthen the demand of the Opposition for need to go back to system of using ballot paper. No Institution can make voters suffer on the grounds of technical glitches. Well, while these questions are debatable, the 21 Opposition parties which are now determined to see that the BJP does not come back to power need to assure the people that if voted to power in the next five years they will take measures to see that the use of money power in elections would be stopped and all should make a public statement that they will not distribute money for votes.
This should be the basic political reform that is urgently needed for the country. The contesting candidates spend money like water during polls and would like to get an inflow like a flood in the next five years to meet the next election expenditure.
It is a known fact that money distribution in the run up to elections is fairly common in India, where voters are bribed with cash and liquor to vote for a particular party. The EC always claims that it has seized huge amount of cash, gold and liquor. But there is no deterrent punishment and the expenditure of the candidates continues to rise. It is a catch 21 situation.
The voters say that the politicians amass lot of money in the form of commissions and other means and hence there is nothing wrong in accepting a few thousand rupees before the polls. The leaders say since voters are not willing to go to polling booth if they aren't given money. This chain needs to be broken. Can these 21 parties show the courage to put an end to the practice of note for vote?