Photo: The Hindu

Indian elections are a magnanimous democratic exercise. Democracy is of the people, by the people and for the people as stated by Abraham Lincoln and Elections is the major substantive form in a democracy. It expresses the will of the people. However there are certain concerns.

Electronic voting machines (EVMs)

Out of 20 lakh machines in operation, a few hundred or thousand may malfunction. Reserved machines are kept which will replace the malfunctioned machines if any defects found. Recently, an EVM was found abandoned on a national highway in Rajasthan and another was found in an MLA’s house.



Hate speeches

There are concerns over the growing number of hate speeches. Politicians must follow the model code of conduct which should be followed in letter and spirit else the image of the Election Commission of India will be eroded.

Politicians with serious criminal charges contesting elections

Data from the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) indicate that 179 out of the 543 elected MPs in the present Lok Sabha have some kind of criminal case pending against them. The Supreme Court of India does not bar politicians with serious criminal charges from contesting elections. Even  the Law Commission has demanded to debar politicians facing criminal charges. Howwver politicians contest that one is presumed innocent until proven guilty. There are many instances when the Opposition files false cases against opponents. If they are barred , it will breach their fundamental rights like the right to liberty, freedom of movement, freedom of occupation, and freedom of dignity. And the legal right to vote as well is breached. Disqualifying any candidate from contesting is the function of law. So Parliament must legislate on the matter.

Electoral Bonds

This has made the whole transaction opaque now because only the government knows who gave how much to which party. S.Y. Quraishi suggested a National Electoral Fund to which all donors can contribute. State funding of political parties as proposed by Indrajit Gupta Committee will ensure a level playing field for all the parties.

Simultaneous Elections

The argument in favour of simultaneous elections is the idea of “one nation, one election”. The Argument against Simultaneous Elections is that it is against the constitutional fabric and it would be impractical. Law Commission of India recommended simultaneous elections to Lok Sabha and State Legislative. The Election Commission has also extended its support for the simultaneous elections.

Paid News during Elections

There are cases where politicians paid newspapers or TV channels to carry favorable reports. ECI suggested that paid news be made an electoral offence under the RPA. A Law Commission report from 2015 also recommends amending the RPA to this effect.

Role of the Governor

Governors have become too political now days. Hence the powers of the Governor should be clearly defined, according to the recommendations of the Sarkaria Commission. They should invite the party with the largest numbers to form the government, failing which [they should invite] the combination of parties claiming the largest numbers.

Way forward

Elections should be free and fair and uphold the spirit of democracy.