Electoral Reforms In India

Electoral reforms refer to the introduction of the best practices in ensuring better democracy, clean politics, fair elections, ideal members of legislative houses, true representation and so on.

India is the largest democracy in the world. Elections are the most integral and important part of politics in a democratic system of governance. True democracy can function only when elections to the offices of power are held in a free and fair manner.

The requirement of Electoral Reforms:

The need for electoral reforms has also been felt mainly due to removing the malicious people and malevolent activities they are involved in. There are multiple issues plaguing the electoral process in India.

Vote-buying: The rise of illegitimate expenditure on vote-buying has become a matter of great concern as it is making only the rich to be more qualified to become an MP (Member of Parliament) or an MLA (Member of the Legislative Assembly) over a well-qualified public-spirited person.

  • As can be seen, out of 533 candidates elected to the 17th Lok Sabha (2019-present), 475 Parliamentarians (accounting for 88%) are ‘crorepatis’. This reflects the paradoxical situation of poor India with rich Parliamentarians raising concerns about the growing role of money power in politics.

Criminalisation of Politics and Politicization of Criminals

Criminals enter into politics and ensure that money and muscle power wins them elections, so that the cases against them are not proceeded with. Political parties are also happy as long as they have winnable candidates. Political parties field criminals in elections for funds and in return provide them with political patronage and protection.

Misuse of Government Machinery

There is a general opinion that the party in power uses government machinery such as using government vehicles for canvassing, advertisements at the cost of the exchequer, disbursements out of the discretionary funds at the disposal of the ministers, and other such means to improve the chances of their candidates winning.

Non-serious Independent candidates

Serious candidates float non-serious candidates in elections to cut a good portion of the votes that would otherwise have gone to rival candidates.

Casteism

There are cases of certain caste groups lending strong support to particular political parties. Thus, political parties make offers to win over different caste groups, and caste groups also try to pressurize parties to offer tickets for their members’ elections. Voting on caste lines is prevalent in the country and this is a serious blotch on democracy and equality. This also creates rifts in the country.

Communalism 

Communal polarization poses a serious threat to the Indian political ethos of pluralism, parliamentarianism, secularism and federalism.

Money Power

In every constituency, candidates have to spend crores of rupees for campaigning, publicity, etc. Most candidates far exceed the permissible limit of expenses.

Muscle Power

In certain parts of the country, there are widespread reports of illegal and untoward incidents during polling such as the use of violence, intimidation, booth capturing, etc.

Constitutional articles related to electoral reforms:

  1. Article 324-329 deals with elections and electoral reforms.
  2. Article 324 deals with the Superintendence, direction, and control of elections to be vested in an Election Commission.
  3. Article 325 states that no person to be ineligible for inclusion in or to claim to be included in a special, electoral roll on grounds of religion, race, caste or sex.
  1. Article 326 deals with the Elections to the House of the People and to the Legislative Assemblies of States to be on the basis of adult suffrage.
  2. Article 327 provides power to the Parliament to make provision with respect to elections to Legislatures.
  1. Article 328 provides power to Legislature of a State to make provision with respect to elections to such Legislature.
  2. Article 329 provides to create a bar on the court to make any interference by courts relating to electoral matters.

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