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ELECTORAL POLITICS AND INDIAN DEMOCRACY


1. Introduction

The Party politics starts with governance, governance of the state. State has been positioned as one of the highest social institutions often referred as ‘Necessary evil’ an institution without which the state cannot function which will eventually lead to law and order problems and later anarchy, but it superimposed its authority on the people in the form of restrictions.

Origin of state: The word ‘state’ originated by the Greeks as they coined the term ‘Polis’ which later translated into city state. The state is inclusive of many elements such as population , sovereignty , governance ,and territory out of which governance is the most important one.


Government is the indispensable machinery with the help of which one leads the state, makes law and order , executes and implements them. It consists of three bodies: Legislature (makes the law), Executive (executes the law) and Judiciary (implements the law)


The government can be of any type , it can be a Democracy ( The government of the people , for the people and by the people ) , Dictatorship ( the government governed by a dictator who holds absolute authority in any sphere) , Communist ( more than a form of governance it is an ideology of common ownership of means of production and absence of class system)

There are various forms of governance such as Presidential ( where all the powers are vested in the president as he is the sole leader) , Parliamentary ( where the head of the state is the president and the head of the government is the prime minister , both are accountable to the parliament ) , Semi presidential ( it consists of president and the prime minister , differs from the parliamentary form of system as in this the president is conferred with far more powers than the PM unlike the parliamentary form)

Party politics consists of political competition , the result of which is decided on the basis of the will of the people ie their vote( vox populi) Voting is a voice which is so powerful which the people put forward at the time of elections by which they elect their representatives who will redress their grievance , understand the plea of the individuals ,come up with solutions and then implement the best one.

Party politics has many demerits such as the pressure to win elections in the minds of the people compel them to indulge in dirty tricks to be in power because of which the so called noble people who wish to serve the country do not enter this arena as they want to remain distant from the unhealthy competition.


OBJECTIVE & RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

The objective is to understand that the electoral politics is similar to market business as the shopkeeper has to compulsorily provide good services to its customers even if his intention is only to create profits because he knows that the customer is capable of entering another shop and buy from there, Just like a voter if the voter is unsatisfied with the previous representative he will not vote for him in the next elections because the voter is the master having all the powers , to escape from the will of the people the politically powerful people use dirty tricks such as hacking of EVM machines , weakening the opposition parties which handicap the voters as they are left with no option but to give vote to them , create a political world which is multipolar only in terms of paperwork but realistically only consists of one party politics.


Methodology of the research is a critical analysis of the Electoral politics in a democratic country like India, the researcher has relied on the secondary sources like books , websites and articles to get a clear idea about the research problem on the basis of which the researcher has tried to reach the core aspect of the study.


The research project focuses on the process and practices as well as malpractices of elections , starting from its elegibility to contest to the electoral campaign and democratic character of India, the ill effects of elections and its advantages , different system in different types of elections . The houses of the Indian Parliamentor ‘Sansad Bhawan’ are elaborately defined , giving importance to the speaker and ex officio leader of lok sabha and rajya sabha who precede it , even the reserved constituencies have been mentioned .

After pointing out certain ‘problems’ in the electoral process , the project has concluded the entire research by pointing out that any reform that increases transparency can be an asset in carrying out free and fair elections. It also suggested certain reformative measures which must be taken for a better eletoral process in a democracy like India.


2. ELECTIONS

The process where people vote for their respective candidates is called elections , the people exercise their right to vote under universal adult suffrage and have the right to choose the following:-

  • They choose who will form the government

  • They choose who will make laws and policies for them

  • They choose whose party will have the majority in the parliament

It is not just important to hold elections, what is important is that one should hold democratically elections where the people elect their leaders directly. Minimum requirements of a democratic election are:-

  • Everyone should have one vote, each vote should have equal value

  • The voters should have atleast two parties to choose from, if there is just one party which contesting the elections then it is simply useless to vote

  • The entire election process should be conducted in a free and fair manner, where people can analyze the political situation in the country and then make a decision

  • The choice of the voters should prevail, the leader they have voted for should become their representative


NOTE: There are cases where the countries apparently have a choice but in reality they don’t. For example in China the people really don’t have a choice, they have to elect the ruling parties and its members, the opposition never managed to win , media largely ignored the other party’s campaign unless it was to criticize them , sometimes the polling booths were shifted from one place to another at the last moment to create difficulties, it was clearly not a free and fair electoral process.


DEMERITS OF ELECTION PROCESS IN INDIA

The election process begins with the election notification issued by the President under section 14 of the People’s representation act , 1951. There have been many discrepancies seen in the electoral process so far such as :-

  • The candidate getting less than the minority of votes also becomes victorious – In India we follow First past the post system (FPTP) where in the leader who gets the most number of votes wins the elections , the disadvantage of this system is that the defeated candidates in total poll more votes than the winning candidate and still the latter wins the election.


  • The use of money and muscle power has surely deteriorated the free and fair procedure of elections , the candidates have often violated the limit fixed by the election commission to carry their campaign , the supporters and voters are bribed , black money finds its way in the campaign which distort the free and fair elections.


  • Inactivity on the part of voters – The voters generally have a tendency of not being thoroughly involved in the process , lack of surveillance on their part is not a good sign for democratic elections.


  • Misuse of official machinery in the political process – The politicians make it a point to appoint their so called favorable officers in the campaigning, who are powerful and can be trusted in these times , their usage often leads to corruption and political instability.


FIRST PAST THE POST AND PR SYSTEM OF ELECTIONS

The first past the post system is also known as simple majority system in which the candidate with the highest number of votes wins the election. This system is practiced in the Lok sabha and state legislature elections.

The reason why India adopted FPTP system is because of its simplicity – The system is easy to understand as most of the population of India is less educated and politically inactive so even they can understand the process.

The FPTP system offers choice between specific candidates and not mainly parties because of which the people can hold their elected candidate accountable as he becomes answerable to them.

Also the system would encourage people from different social and cultural classes come together to win an election whereas in the PR system every other leader would form a party in his own community which will not be able to sustain political stability in the longer run leading to bias behavior amongst the people belonging to the specific caste or religion their leader is from

In proportional representation system the party gets the number of seats in proportion to the number of votes contested, India adopted this system on a limited scale for conducting the elections of President , Vice President , Rajya sabha members (MPs) and Vidhan parishads . The system has three variants,

  • The entire country is treated as a constituency and seats are allocated to each party as per its share of votes

  • The country is divided into several multi party constituencies, each party prepares a list of candidates for each constituency

  • As a third variant , India follows STV (Single transferable vote ) where in every state has a specific quota of seats in the rajya sabha For instance Uttar Pradesh has the largest number of seats. Every person is required to elect a candidate on the basis of his or her preference , In order to be declared a winner the candidate has to secure a minimum quota of votes which is to determined by the following formula:

Total votes polled / total number of candidates to be elected +1

For example if 5 Rajya sabha members are to elected by 180 MLAs then ,

180/ 5+1 = 30 votes are required by the winner.


In FPTP the candidate might get less votes than the majority, sometimes not even 50%, but in PR the candidate gets majority votes only. In PR voters vote for the party but in FPTP, voters vote for the candidate. In FPTP , it not necessary to get seats in proportion to the votes of legislature unlike pr. FPTP elects one representative from one constituency whereas PR elects more than one representative from the constituency


RESERVED CONSTITUENCIES

As per the FPTP system the candidate with the highest votes wins, this is often treated as a disadvantage for the lower classes as India has been a class discriminating country since centuries . The constitution makers were aware of this problem so they created reservation in electoral politics where people belonging to the reserved category can only contest elections in that constituency.

Some of the article for the same have been listed below:

  • Art 330 : Seats shall be reserved in lok sabha for the SC ans ST in proportion to their population

  • Art 332: Reservation of seats for the schedule caste and schedule tribe in the state legislative assemblies

  • Art 331:The President may appoint two members from the anglo indian community to the house of people if their community is not adequately represented.


UNIVERSAL ADULT FRANCHISE

Universal adult franchise is also called as the Right to contest or vote: In India any person who is of the age of 18 or above has been conferred with the right to vote.

In many countries women got this right more like a privilege as they had to wait for it. One of the most important decisions of the constitution makers was to grant every adult the right to vote (the term ‘adult’ is inclusive of women , SC, ST and other backward classes as well irrespective of their educational qualifications)

Initially people of 21 years of age had the right to vote , but as per amendment of 1989 the eligibility age to vote was reduced from 21 to 18 years.

However the decision of the constitution makers to give the right to vote even in the hands of the illiterate was criticized by the people , but the framers of the constitution had a firm belief in the people of the country that they all had the ability to think about the welfare of the society , and they termed each one of them as ‘equals’, irrespective of race , caste, gender, class or even educational background.

3. INDIAN DEMOCRACY

India is a Parliamentary form of democracy where the head of the state is the President and the head of the government is the PM, It believes in the concept of direct as well as indirect form of elections.

Direct elections is the process where the voters directly vote for their desired candidate by casting the vote by pressing the button on the EVM next to their desirable candidate.

Example: state legislature elections , general lok sabha elections

Indirect elections is the process where the individuals together elect a certain group of people who will select a candidate on their behalf , they indirectly elect their representative by empowering the people to elect him

Example: Panchayat and gram panchayat elections.


3.1 DIRECT ELECTIONS: PROCESS AND APPLICABILITY ON WHOSE BASIS THE CANDIDATES GET ELECTED

Lok Sabha elections

Eligibility criterion

According to article 84 of the Indian constitution to become a member of the Lok Sabha a candidate should have the following eligibility:

1. Candidate should be a citizen of India

2. He/she should have be of 25 years of age

3.The candidate should not hold any office of profit under the Indian government or the government of any other state

4.The candidate should not be of an unstable mind

5. He/she should not disobey the discipline of the party.

Who all can vote in Lok Sabha

Any Indian citizen above the age of 18 years is eligible can register themselves as voters and are eligible to vote. In order to do that they have to register themselves in the constituency where they live, on the basis of which they will be give them their voter id card.

Seats in the Lok Sabha

As per the Constitution the Lok Sabha can have maximum 552 seats , out of which 530 are to be elected from the states and 20 from the 7 union territories and 2 nominated member from the Anglo Indian community appointed by the President.

To form a Central government , the party needs 272 MPs and if the party does not have the required number of MPs then they have to collaborate and form a coalition government with other parties.

Seats reserved for the reserved category are as follows:

Schedule castes seats: 84

Schedule tribe seats: 47


Lok Sabha tenure

Lok sabha tenure is only for 5 years after which it will be dissolved and after the verdict of the general elections, the winning party having the majority of votes will form the party.

However in cases of emergency the period of Lok sabha can be extended by the parliament.

Role of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha

Lok Sabha is called as the House of the People and the controller of the purse of the nation as it has the power to decide the budget of the country.

First lok sabha elections: In the year 1952 the first lok sabha elections were held where GV Mavlankar was the Speaker of lok sabha and Ananthasayanam Ayyangar was the first Deputy Speaker of lok sabha.

Lok Sabha Speaker is the presiding officer of the Lok Sabha (House of the People) or the lower house of the Parliament of India. Till date, 16 people have served as Lok Sabha Speaker. The Speaker is the constitutional and ceremonial head of the House. He is the principal spokesperson of the House.


The Speaker has to see to it that Parliament functions the way that it is intended to under the Constitution.

The Speaker has extensive functions to perform in matters administrative, judicial and regulatory, falling under his domain.

As the conventional head of the Lok Sabha and as its principal spokesman, the Speaker represents its collective voice. His decisions are final and binding and ordinarily cannot be questioned, challenged or criticized.

In the absence of the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker discharges his functions. A member from the Panel of Chairmen presides over the House in the absence of both the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker.

Quorum: For a meeting of the Lok Sabha the presence of at least 1/10th of its total members is essential. If 1/10th of the members are not present in a meeting of the Lok Sabha, the speaker can even adjourn the session because of the lack of the same.


What does the Lok Sabha do?

  1. Legislative Powers:

An ordinary bill can become law only after it has been passed by both the Houses of Parliament. It can be introduced either in the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha. When a bill is introduced and passed by the Lok Sabha, it is sent to the Rajya Sabha , After it has secured the approval of Rajya Sabha, it goes to the President for his signature which makes it the law t In case the Rajya Sabha rejects a bill passed by the Lok Sabha and returns it with or without some amendments, the Lok Sabha reconsiders the bill.

If the Lok Sabha re-passes it and the Rajya Sabha is still not prepared to pass it, a deadlock occurs. If this deadlock remains unresolved for six months, the President summons a joint sitting of the two Houses. The decision of the joint sitting is complied by both the Houses.

  1. Executive Powers:


For all its work, the Council of Ministers is collectively responsible before the Lok Sabha. The leader of the majority in the Lok Sabha becomes the Prime Minister and he leads the Cabinet which is composed of his councils of ministers. The ministers remain in office so long as they enjoy the confidence of majority in the Lok Sabha. The Lok Sabha can remove the ministry from office by passing a vote of no- confidence against it. Thus, the life and death of the Ministry depends upon the Lok Sabha.

MPs can ask questions from ministers about their policies and activities of administration. They can criticise their policies. They can move and adopt several types of resolutions and motions (adjournment motion, call attention motion, censure motion and no-confidence motion) and can reject any bill of the government.

If the Lok Sabha:

(i) Rejects any policy or decision of the Cabinet,

(ii) Or disapproves the budget or a bill of the government, or

(iii) Passes a vote of no- confidence against the Prime Minister, it is. Taken to be a vote of no-confidence against the entire Council of Ministers and it resigns en masse.

  1. Financial Powers:

The Lok Sabha has vast financial powers. A money bill can be introduced only in the Lok Sabha. After having been passed by it, the money bill goes to the Rajya Sabha. Such a bill can be considered by the Rajya Sabha for a maximum period of 14 days. If the Rajya Sabha fails to pass a money bill and 14 days elapse, the money bill is deemed to have been passed by both the houses of Parliament. It is sent to the President for his signature.

In case of any dispute as to whether a particular bill is a money bill or not, the Speaker of the Lok Sabha gives the decision. His decision is final and it cannot be challenged in any court or even in the Rajya Sabha or the Lok Sabha. Thus, we can any that the Lok Sabha has the final control over the finances of state. No tax can be levied or collected or changed or abolished without the approval of the Lok Sabha. The fiscal policies of the government cannot be implemented without the consent of the Lok Sabha.

4. Judicial Powers:

The Lok Sabha also performs some judicial functions. The impeachment proceedings can be taken up against the President either in the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha. The President can be removed from office only when an impeachment resolution is adopted by each of the two Houses with a 2/3 majority of its members.

The Lok Sabha also investigates the charges prepared by the Rajya Sabha against the Vice-President of India. The Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha can together pass a resolution for the removal of any judge of the Supreme Court or of a State High Court. Lok Sabha can also take action against any member or any citizen who is held to be guilty of committing contempt of the House.

Rajya sabha

Eligibility criterion: A person seeking the membership of Rajya sabha must possess the following qualifications-

  1. The candidate must be a citizen of India

  2. The candidate must not be less than 30 years of age

  3. He must be elected from the state , from where he contested elections

  4. In order to gain membership as a nominee in the Rajya sabha , the person should possess remarkable skills in the following fields:- Arts , literature , science and social service.


Tenure of Rajya sabha: Rajya sabha is the permanent house and is not subjected to dissolution , but after every 2 years 1/3 of its members retire in accordance with the provisions of law. Generally the members of the Rajya sabha are elected for 6 years.

Quorum: One tenth of the total membership of the Rajya sabha constitutes the quorum ie 25 members mainly.


Who all can vote: Rajya Sabha members are elected indirectly by the people ie by the members of legislative assemblies (MLAs) on the basis of proportional representation system.

Seats: The Rajya sabha members have 245 members currently, including 233 elected members and 12 nominated members. The constitutional limit for the same cannot exceed 250 members. Article 334 provides that seats should be reserved for SC and ST in Lok sabha and Vidhan sabha, there is no reservation of seats in Rajya Sabha.

Ex officio rajya sabha: The Vice-President of India is the ex-officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha. In addition, the house also elects a Deputy Chairman from amongst its members. The Deputy Chairman presides over when the Vice-President is absent. The Chairman does not enjoy the right to vote except in case of a tie. As presiding officer, the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha is responsible for maintaining order and decorum in the house and conducts the proceedings in accordance with the rules. The Secretary-General is appointed by the Chairman and holds rank equivalent to the highest civil servant of the Union. The Secretary-General is also the administrative head of the Rajya Sabha Secretariat and the custodian of the records of the House. He works under the direction and control of the Chairman.

Powers of Rajya Sabha:

  1. Legislative Powers of Rajya Sabha

An ordinary bill can be introduced in aany house but it must be approved by both the houses in order to be a law in the later stage. It even has the power to suggest amendments against the money bill , approves constitutional amendments and can give orders to the union to make laws on the matters included in the state list.

  1. Constituent Powers of Rajya Sabha

Exercises control over the Executive by asking questions , introducing motions and resolutions, It can alone inititate the impeachment process of Vice President and takes part in the election and removal of the President , Vice President , Judges of Supreme Court and High Court.

  1. Exclusive Powers of Rajya Sabha

Though in the legislative and financial spheres Rajya Sabha enjoys either inferior or co-equal position with the Lok Sabha, in certain other spheres it has been given exclusive powers which are not available to the Lok Sabha. For example, under Article 249 of the Constitution the Rajya Sabha can authorise the Parliament to make a law on the subject enumerated in the State List by passing a resolution by two-thirds majority that it is necessary or expedient to do so in national interest. After passage of such a resolution by the Rajya Sabha the Parliament can lawfully legislate on any subject in the State List. Such a resolution is, initially valid for a period of one year but can be further extended for a year at a time. Under Article 312, the Rajya Sabha is authorized to recommend the creation of a new All India Service catering to the needs of the Union as well as the States.



3.2 LOCAL GOVERNMENT OF INDIA : PANCHAYATS AND MUNICIPALITIES

Municipalities The first Municipal Corporation was set-up in the former Presidency Town of Madras in 1688; and was followed by similar corporations in the then Bombay and Calcutta in 1726. The Constitution of India has made detailed provisions for ensuring protection of democracy in Parliament and in the state legislatures. However, Constitution did not make the local self-government in urban areas a clear-cut constitutional obligation. While the Directive Principles of State Policy refer to village Panchayats, there is no specific reference to Municipalities except the implicitly in Entry 5 of the State List, which places the subject of local self-governments as a responsibility of the states.

In order to provide for a common framework for urban local bodies and help to strengthen the functioning of the bodies as effective democratic units of self-government, Parliament enacted the Constitution (74th Amendment) Act, 1992 relating to municipalities in 1992. The Act received the assent of the President on 20 April 1993. The Government of India notified 1 June 1993 as the date from which the said Act came into force. A new part IX-A relating to the Municipalities has been incorporated in the Constitution to provide for among other things, constitution of three types of Municipalities, i.e., Nagar Panchayats for areas in transition from a rural area to urban area, Municipal Councils for smaller urban areas and Municipal Corporation for large urban areas, fixed duration of municipalities, appointment of state election commission, appointment of state finance commission and constitution of metropolitan and district planning committees. State/UTs have set-up their election Commissions. Elections to municipal bodies have been completed in all States/UTs except Jharkhand and Pondicherry.

Panchayats Article 40 of the Constitution, which enshrines one of the Directive Principles of State Policy, lays down that the State shall take steps to organize village panchayats and endow them with such powers and, authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as units of self-government.

In the light of the above, a new Part IX relating to the Panchayats has been inserted in the Constitution to provide for among other things, Gram Sabha in a village or group of villages; constitution of Panchayats at village and other level or levels; direct elections to all seats in Panchayats at the village and intermediate level, if any, and to the offices of Chairpersons of Panchayats at such levels; reservation of seats for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in proportion to their population for membership of Panchayats and office of Chairpersons in Panchayats at each level; reservation of not less than one-third of the seats for women; fixing tenure of five years for Panchayats and holding elections within a period of six months in the event of super session of any Panchayat.



CONCLUSION & SUGGESTIONS

The voice of the people is by far the most important thing in any country , especially in a democracy as the people have been bestowed with the power to elect their repressentatives by exercising their righ to vote . The elections being the most important aspect of any country also has the capacity of becoming harmful and corruptible, which can be minimized by reforming its nature with the intent of making it as free and fair as possible.


ELECTORAL REFORMS

In any electoral system there are bound to be flaws and defects as no institution is flawless, All the democratic countries have to keep finding the suitable mechanism which can be better in the later years of elections in order to make the electoral process more free and fair . The election commission and various political scholars have suggested certain electoral reforms , some of them are:-

  • There should be a special provision to control the aspect of money and muscle power in the election process where poor voters are bribed by money , eatables and even liquor in order to get their support. This is often used negatively and must be controlled.


  • The electoral process should be changed from First past the post sytem (FPTP) to Proportional Representation (PR) so that the leaders/ candidates are allotted the number of seats in proportion to the number of votes that have been polled to them.

  • Women representation – The parliament should represent the women community in a more suitable manner by reserving a proportionate share of seats for them in the Lok sabha , Rajya sabha and even in the state legislatures.

Only 65 MPs , or 12% of the total 545 members in the 16th lok sabha are women.

  • If any candidate has a criminal record he should not be allowed to contest elections even if the case is pending and no verdict has been given by the court.

  • Dirty politics should not be played i.e For example using Religious sentiments are a tool to win elections should be strongly condemned , such as targeting the religion having the majority (Hinduism) , promising them to protect the holy cow , holy ganga river and building the ram mandir in Ayodhya. Religion should not be mixed with politics, and especially electoral politics.

  • There should be a transparent , unbiased and vigilant democratic political process ensuring that each vote has equal value and all the voters are equal.

  • The public should be more involved in the political process -There are times when the people thinks ‘ How can a single vote make a difference ?’ and decide not to vote , it is like having the access to money and still living in poverty . Every individual should exercise their right to vote, as Aristotle said good citizens make good state and bad citizens make bad state. If the people will be empowered so will the country.

  • The Media should pay equal emphasis on the electoral campaign of all the parties , and should not be biased towards a particular party or charismatic leaders because majority population of India is illiterate and relies on the Media at the time of elections, this can easily influence them.


By Sanjana Chib








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