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Collective Democracy Not Individual: VITAL TO CHANGE POLL SYSTEM, By Chanchal Chauhan, 1 April 14 Print E-mail

Events & Issues

New Delhi, 1 April 2014

Collective Democracy Not Individual


By Chanchal Chauhan


The whole nation is witnessing the game of money power, defections, threats and counter-threats in the run-up to the elections.  Add to this, candidates of big Parties do not care a fig for guidelines issued by the Election Commission on election expenditure. For instance, these Parties are paying heavy tariffs for advertisements in the electronic media, print and social networking sites. Who will count the monies being spent on these costly advertisements?


Besides, there are innumerable other expenditure payments which the Election Commission would find it hard to calculate. Such as money paid to crowds brought to the rallies by various important contenders. Notwithstanding, the limit for the Lok Sabha elections has been raised from Rs. 40 lakh to Rs. 70 lakh for each constituency in bigger States and from Rs. 22 lakh to Rs. 54 lakh in smaller States recently.


However, a cursory glance at the expenditure statements declared by Members of Parliament for the Lok Sabha elections in 2009 shows that on an average an MP spent only Rs.14.62 lakhs i.e. 59% of the Rs 40 lakh expense limit allowed. Arguably, even a layman can see through that there is a blatant falsehood in their stated expenditure documents which include details of expenses on public meetings and processions, campaigning through the electronic and print media, payments to campaign workers, costs of vehicles used and expenses on campaign materials.


Everyone knows about the huge amount of black money spent in elections. Recall, BJP MP Gopinath Munde’s assertion that an election costs more than Rs.8 crores. Undeniably, this is the real picture of expenditure involved in the Lok Sabha elections.


Besides, candidates are given tickets by Parties mostly on the basis of their money power and assets. Resulting in the whole atmosphere being vitiated by individualism, ego and individual pride wherein, issues of social welfare and social service evaporate with a personality cult becoming the focal point of poll. This is given priority in the media too.


Sadly, the whole election process seems to be an affair of some individuals with the collective becomes redundant. Clearly, making a mockery of our democracy as a democratic system should be run by the collective will and not by an individual.

Pertinently, the Constitution begins with a Preamble with states: ‘We the people of India hereby solemnly resolve to constitute India into a Sovereign,  Socialist, Secular and Democratic Republic to secure all its citizens with Justice: social, economic and political; Liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; Equality of status and of opportunity.


Undeniably, ‘We’ should be more important than ‘I’ but unfortunately, the Indian Republic has become captive of the personality cult as has happened in many backward countries and is still continuing in some countries. This weakness or flaw in Indian democracy has damaged its social fabric and now it is creating havoc with the violation of all norms of decency and civilised behaviour.


Notably, the election campaigns are nothing but are all about mud-slinging on rivals and foul language being used freely against opponents. One leader, declared as the Prime Ministerial candidate by his Party which goes against the tenets of India’s democracy and even against the spirit of the Constitution has been deified and is facing protests from a religious community for crowing himself as a super-God over and above Lord Shiva and Goddess Durga.


Showcasing how an individual cult stoops low whereby even Indian culture is trampled upon by such elements and by those who swear day-in-and-day-out by upholding this very culture.


Thus, it is high time that ‘we, the people of India’ should think of electoral reforms and debate and discuss the radical changes in the electoral process. Long back, one suggestion about electoral reforms was made by some intellectuals. But it was not given any serious thought by the powers-that-be. Perhaps, Anna Hazare might be inclined to take up this agenda after his campaign against corruption is over.  


Importantly, the present electoral system must be replaced by a system based on “proportional representation”. Also, every voter should give his preference to a ‘Party’ that is the honourable collective in any democracy. Any individual or ‘Independent’ who wishes to service the nation should first form an ‘association of people’ that is a ‘Party’ which must prove its credentials  by fighting elections as a ‘Party’, but not as an ‘Individual’ or ‘Independent’.


This will create a new consciousness of honouring the collective will rather than an individual per se. Even a voter residing in some remote area where the Party of his own choice hardly has any base can exercise his right to vote in favour of that Party and his vote would be counted.

At present there are millions of voters who do not have a choice and remain indifferent because they do not support the individuals contesting elections in his or her area. Now they can ‘reject’ all, but that would be unfair on these voters, given that they have their own Party but do not have the resources to field a candidate in a particular constituency. This results in them wasting their vote.


Suppose, there is a supporter of a Party, namely the RPI but there is no candidate of the RPI in any constituency in Delhi, consequently, the voters and supporters of the RPI have no choice of their own liking. But the new system would provide this choice wherein each and every supporter of a political formation anywhere in India would surely participate in the electoral process. And when the entire nation exercises the right to elect, the proportionate number of representatives of each Party would be sent to the Lok Sabha.


The new system will automatically promote the value of the collective. The Parties would have to take up social and political issues in their election campaigns and no individual would be declared to be the Prime Ministerial candidate because the candidates would be nominated only after the whole electoral process is over and every Party is given the number of seats won according to the percentage of votes secured by that Party.


In sum, the Parties should also be given the right to recall a candidate in case of any indiscipline or violation of any Parliamentary norm or on the basis of any pressure for recall of that candidate from the people. The problem is: Who will bell the cat? Some Anna Hazare, perhaps! ----- INFA

(Copyright, India News and Feature Alliance)


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