Short Essay On Election System In India

For the most recent general election, see Indian general election, 2014.

The 2014 general election involved an electorate of 863,500,000 people. It was conducted in nine stages.[1][2] The expenditure for the 2014 election was approximately 3765 crore. The cost per voter was Rs 1375.[3] Votes were made using over one million electronic voting machines.[4] In the 2014 election, the National Democratic Alliance led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power. The BJP secured a majority of 282 seats. Narendra Modi of the BJP became Prime Minister of India.

Background[edit]

India's government is based on Federalism. Elected officials are appointed at federal, state and local levels. In India, there is universal suffrage. Results of elections are determined by first-past-the-post system.[5] Elections are conducted by the Election Commission of India.

The Prime Minister of India, is elected by members of the Lok Sabha, the lower house of parliament.[6] The Constitution of India allows for up to 552 members in the Lok Sabha, with up to 530 members representing the States. Up to 20 members represent the Union Territories. In practice, 543 members of the Lok Sabha are elected every five years. Two members are elected by the President of India to represent the Anglo-Indian community.[7]

In 1952, there were 1874 candidates vying for places in the Lok Sabha. In 1996, this number rose to 139,529 candidates. in 2009, there were only 80,708 candidates.[8] The number of votes and seats won provides a ranking of the major political parties.[9]

The Rajya Sabha is the upper house of parliament. 233 of its members are elected indirectly by the legislative assemblies of the states and the Electoral College of the Union Territories. The President of India appoints 12 of its members. (See Wikipedia, "Rajya Sabha.")[10] 233 members are elected for a six-year term. Every two years, one third of the members retire. The elected members are chosen by proportional representation via the single transferable vote. There are twelve nominated members who are usually an eclectic mix of eminent artists (including actors), scientists, jurists, sportsmen and women, businessmen, journalists and other citizens.[11]

FirstSecondThird
YearElectionTotal seatsPartySeats % votesPartySeats % votesPartySeats % votes
1951-52 [12][13][14]1st Lok Sabha489INC364100%CPI163.29%SOC1210.59%
1957 [15]2nd Lok Sabha494INC371100%CPI278.92%PSP1910.41%
19623rd Lok Sabha494INC361100%CPI299.94%SWA187.89%
19674th Lok Sabha520INC283100%SWA448.67%BJS359.31%
19715th Lok Sabha518INC352100%CPM255.12%CPI234.73%
19776th Lok Sabha542JP330100%INC15434.52%CPM224.29%
19807th Lok Sabha529 ( 542* )INC(I)35142.69%JNP(S)419.39%CPM376.24%
19848th Lok Sabha514INC404100%TDP304.31%CPM225.87%
19899th Lok Sabha529INC195100%JD14217.79%BJP8911.36%
199110th Lok Sabha521INC232100%BJP12020.11%JD5911.84%
199611th Lok Sabha543BJP16120.29%INC14028.80%JD4623.45%
199812th Lok Sabha545BJP18225.59%INC14125.82%CPM325.16%
199913th Lok Sabha545BJP18223.75%INC11428.30%CPM335.40%
200414th Lok Sabha543INC14526.53%BJP13822.16%CPM435.66%
200915th Lok Sabha545INC20628.55%BJP11618.80%SP233.23%
201416th Lok Sabha545BJP28231.34%INC4419.52%AIADMK373.31%

* : 12 seats in Assam and 1 in Meghalaya did not vote.[16]

Indian political parties[edit]

From 1947 to 1964, the Indian National Congress was India's dominant political party. It was led by Jawaharlal Nehru (1889 – 1964), K Kamaraj (1903 – 1975) and then Lal Bahadur Shastri (1905 – 1966). In the 1970s, the Congress party splintered. Indira Gandhi then led the party to election victory. In 1977, the Congress party lost to an opposition coalition that represented voters opposed to India's state of emergency which had been imposed in 1975. Indira Gandhi regained power but was assassinated in 1984. After her death, her son, Rajiv Gandhi (1941 – 1991) led the party. In 1989, the Congress party lost to a coalition led by VP Singh (1931 – 2008) after Rajiv Gandhi was accused of corruption. In 1990, the Congress party returned to power, led by P V Narasimha Rao (1921 – 2004).

In 1996, a coalition government was formed, mostly from regional parties. Further coalition governments followed, led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, I K Gujral and H D Deve Gowda. In 1999, the National Democratic Alliance led by the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power and completed a full term. For the next decade, the United Progressive Alliance led by the Indian National Congress party formed government under Manmohan Singh.

Parties with strong traditional regional bases include the Telugu Desam Party, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam. In the 1990s, new regional parties emerged including the Indian National Lok Dal, Shiromani Akali Dal, Shiv Sena, Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, and Janata Dal. Such parties may promote regional aspirations such as Telangana Rashtra Samithi and Shiv Sena or caste considerations as in the case of the Bahujan Samaj Party.

Election Commission[edit]

The Election Commission of India is an autonomous entity proscribed in the Constitution of India. It is the federal authority responsible for administering all the electoral processes of India and ensuring they are free and fair.[17]

Elections are conducted according to constitutional provisions and parliamentary legislation. These include the Representation of the People Act, 1950, which mainly deals with the preparation and revision of electoral rolls, and the Representation of the People Act, 1951 which deals, in detail, with all aspects of conduct of elections and post election disputes. The Supreme Court of India has held that where the enacted laws are silent or make insufficient provision to deal with a given situation in the conduct of elections, the Election Commission has the residuary powers under the Constitution to act in an appropriate manner.

From 1947 to 16 October 1989, there was one Chief Election Commissioner. From 1989 to 1 January 1990, there were two commissioners. The Election Commissioner Amendment Act, 1993 made the Election Commission a multi-member body. On 1 October 1993, a further two commissioners were appointed. Decisions are made by majority vote.

Electoral procedures[edit]

Candidates are required to file their nomination papers with the Electoral Commission. Then, a list of candidates is published. No party is allowed to use government resources for campaigning. No party is allowed to bribe the candidates before elections. The government cannot start a project during the election period. Campaigning ends at 6:00 pm on the second last day before the polling day.

The polling is held between 7:00 am and 6:00 pm. The Collector of each district is in charge of polling. Government employees are employed as poll officers at the polling stations. Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) are being used instead of ballot boxes to prevent election fraud. After a citizen votes, his or her left index finger is marked with an indelible ink. This practice was instituted in 1962.

Indelible ink[edit]

Research into an indelible ink was commenced by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (|CSIR). In the 1950s, M. L. Goel worked on this research at the Chemical Division of the National Physical Laboratory of India. The ink used contains silver nitrate and so, is photo-sensitive. It is stored in amber coloured plastic or brown coloured glass bottles. On application, the ink remains on the fingernail for at least two days. It may last up to a month depending upon the person's body temperature and the environment.

Electronic voting[edit]

Electronic voting machines (EVM) were first used in the 1999 election and became the only method of voting in 2004. The EVMs save time and report results. A voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) was introduced on 14 August 2013. The first election to implement the VVPAT was a by-election in the Noksen assembly constituency in Nagaland.[18] In the 2014 general election, VVPAT was operational in 8 constituencies as a pilot project.[19][20][21][22] These included Lucknow, Gandhinagar, Bangalore South, Chennai Central, Jadavpur, Raipur, Patna Sahib and Mizoram constituencies.[23][24][25][26][27][28] A slip generated by the VVPT tells voter to which party or candidate their vote has been given, their name, their constituency and their polling booth.[29][30][31][32][33]. VVPAT has been in news recently (2017), following the demand of Opposition parties to make it mandatory in upcoming elections all over India due to allegations on the government of hacking the EVM. For the voters it is very important to know on how the VVPAT works to enable them cross check whether the vote they have given goes to the right candidate. Here is a brief " At the point when the voter presses the button against the name of the applicant of her/his decision on the EVM unit, the VVPAT unit produces a paper slip, additionally called 'ballot slip'. This paper slip contains the name, serial number, and image of the candidate selected by the voter for his vote. "

NOTA[edit]

Further information: None of the Above in Indian Elections

On 27 September 2013, the Supreme Court of India judged that citizens have the right to a negative vote by exercising a "None of the above" (NOTA) option. This was the result of petitioning from the Electoral Commission and the People's Union for Civil Liberties from 2009. In November 2013, NOTA was introduced in five state elections.[34]

Absentee voting[edit]

India does not provide general absentee voting.[35][36][37] On 24 November 2010, the Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill 2010 was gazetted to give voting rights to non-resident Indians but a physical present at the voting booth is still required.[38][39][40][41]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Ink used in Indian elections
Balloting unit (left), control unit (right)

Electoral Reforms in India UPSC/Electoral reforms in India essay/recent electoral reforms in India/Election reforms in India

Why in News-

  1. Bringing Political parties under the ambit of RTI act.
  2. Conducting elections for Union and state legislatures at the same time.
  3. Law Commission of India’s Report on Electoral Reforms headed by-A.P. Shah.
  4. Time and again debated over the print and electronic media

India is the largest Democracy in the World. Elections are the most important and integral part of politics in a democratic system of governance .Democracy can function only upon this faith that elections are free and fair and not manipulated and rigged. But for certain reasons, system of Democracy is not working properly and common man feels that there is something wrong in the Electoral process.

While the first three general elections (1952-62) in our country were accepted by and large free and fair, a decline in standards began with the fourth general election in 1967. Over the years, Indian electoral system suffered from serious maladies’. Thus, the election process in our country is considered as the basis of political corruption.

The ideal conditions require that an honest, and upright person who is public spirited and wants to serve the people, should be able to contest and get elected as people’s representatives. But in actual fact, such a person has no chance of either contesting or in any case winning the election

MAIN ISSUES INELECTORAL POLITICS OF INDIA

The elections at present are not being held in ideal conditions because of the enormous amount of money power and muscle power needed for winning the elections. In addition there are many other factors on the basis of which election is fought like poverty, casteism, communalism, criminalization of politics, poll violence, booth capturing, non-serious  independent candidates, unemployment,  etc

Money power– In each constituency, a prospective candidate has to spend millions of rupees towards campaigning, transport, publicity etc .The gap between the expenses incurred and legally permitted is increasing over the years.

Muscle Power–  use of Violence, pre-election intimidation,  booth  capturing are mainly the products of muscle power and are prevalent in many parts of the country like Bihar, Western UP etc. and is slowly spreading to south India.

Criminalisation of politics and politicization of criminals– are like two sides of the same coin and are mainly responsible for the manifestation of muscle power at elections. 

 Politicization of criminals: criminals enter into politics to gain influence and ensure that cases against them are dropped or not proceeded with. Also, The political parties field criminals in elections for fund and in return provide them with political patronage and protection

Misuse of Government Machinery: It is generally complained that the government in power at the time of election misuse official machinery to improve their candidates election prospects . The misuse of official machinery takes different forms, such as use of government vehicles for canvassing ,advertisements at the cost of government and public exchequer highlighting their achievements, disbursements out of the discretionary funds at the disposal of the ministers, etc. which gives an unfair advantage to the ruling party at the time of elections.

Non serious Independent candidates -.Non-serious candidates are largely floated by serious candidates either to cut sizeable portion of votes of rival candidates or to split the votes on caste lines or to have additional physical force at polling station and counting centers

 Casteism: there are cases of certain castes lending strong support to particular political parties. Thus  political parties make offers to win different caste groups in their favor and  caste groups  also  try to pressurize parties to give tickets for  its members elections, . Caste based politics are eroding the „unity‟ principle in the name of regional autonomy. Thus caste as become a prime factor in winning elections and Candidates are selected not in terms of accomplishments, ability and merit but on the appendages of caste, creed and community

Communalism:  the politics of communalism and religious fundamentalism during post independence has led to a number of separate movements in various states and regions of the country. Communal polarization has posed a serious threat to the Indian political ethos of pluralism, parliamentarianism, secularism and federalism.

Lack of Moral Values in Politics: Gandhian values of selflessness service to the people and self sacrifice have been destroyed systematically over the years and both the politicians and political parties have lost their credibility,. 

According to Seetharam Yechury(MP) the 4 C’s in Indian politics, -Corruption, Crime, Communalism and casteism 

 It is crime which manifests itself in all the other factors) 

a.    Corruption is a crime,

b.    dividing people along communal lines and spreading hatred in society is a crime,

c.    Suppressing members of the lower caste is also a crime.

Therefore crime is the common factor among all these C’s.

Some major reforms taken –broadly classified as pre-2000 and post- 2000

The reports of various election reform commissions and a number of formal and informal group discussions at various forums and by individuals, have categorically pointed out the defects in the electoral system and came out with some useful suggestions. Yet the problems remaining to be as critical and challenging as ever.

However, government has accepted recommendations of many commission reports only partially. some of the important committees are-the Dinesh Goswami Committee on electoral reforms1990, committee on criminalization of politics by vohra ,committee on state funding of elections by Indrajith gupta , subsequent reports by the law commission, election commission, national commission to review the constitution headed by the M N Venkatachaliaha, second ARC on ethics in governance headed by Veerapa Moily, law commission report headed by A P Shaw 2015.

Reforms pre 2000

  1. Lowering of Voting Age: The Constitution (Sixty-first Amendment) Act, 1988 reduced the voting age from 21 years to 18 years for the Loksabha (house of the people) and state assembly elections. This has given the youth of the country an opportunity to participate and express their feeling in political processes.
  1. Deputation to Election Commission: officers or staff engaged in preparation, revision and correction of electoral rolls for elections shall be deemed to be on deputation of Election Commission for the period of such employment .and these personnel during that period, would be under the control, superintendence and discipline of the Election Commission.
  2. Increase in Number of proposers: Number of electors required to sign as proposers in nomination papers for elections to Council of States (Rajyasabha) and State Legislative Council has been increased to 10% of the electors of the constituency or ten such electors, whichever is less mainly to prevent frivolous candidates.
  1. Electronic Voting Machine: Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) were first used in 1998 during the State elections of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi. EVMs have been widely used in the sixteen Loksabha Elections in 2015.as they are-fool proof, efficient and eco-friendly (limited use of papers)
  1. Booth Capturing: EC May either declare the poll of the particular polling station as void and may appoint a date for fresh poll or countermand election in that constituency because of booth capturing. Booth capturing has been defined in Section 135 A of the RPA 1951.as seizure of a polling station and making polling authorities surrender ballot papers or voting machines, seizure of the polling place, threatening and preventing voters, taking possession of polling stations etc Election Commission on such report may
  1. Disqualification on Conviction for Insulting the National Honors Act, 1971: shall lead to disqualification for contesting elections to Parliament and State Legislatures for a period of six years from the date of such conviction
  1. Increase in Security Deposits and Number of Proposers: The amount of security deposit which a candidate needs to deposit at an election to the Loksabha or a State Legislative Assembly has been enhanced to check the multiplicity of non-serious candidates. In the case of an election to the Loksabha, the security deposit has been increased to Rs. 10,000 for the general candidate and to Rs. 5,000 for a candidate who is a member of a Scheduled cast/tribe.

In the case of elections to a State Legislative Assembly, the candidates will have to make a deposit of Rs. 5,000 if they are general candidates and Rs. 2,500 if they belong to a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe respectively.

Proposers-The amended law further provides that the nomination of a candidate in a Parliamentary or Assembly constituency should be subscribed by 10 electors of the constituency as prospers and if the candidate has not been set up by a recognised National or State Party.

 The number of proposers and seconders for contesting election to the office of the President of India has been increased to 50 each from 10 and; number of electors as proposers and seconders for contesting Vice-Presidential election has increased to 20 from 5. The security deposit has been increased to Rs. 15,000 from Rs. 2,500 for contesting election to the offices of President and Vice- President to discourage frivolous candidates.

  1. Restriction on Contesting Election from More than Two Constituencies: A candidate is eligible to contest election from not more than two Assembly or parliamentary constituencies at a general election or at the bye-elections which are held simultaneously. Similar restrictions will apply for biennial-elections and bye-elections to the Council of States (Rajyasabha) and State legislative councils.
  1. Death of a contesting Candidate: Previously, the election was countermanded on the death of a contesting candidate. In future, no election will be countermanded on the death of a contesting candidate and If the deceased candidate, however, was set up by a recognized national or State party, then the party concerned will be given an option to nominate another candidate within seven days of the issue of a notice to that effect to the party concerned by the Election Commission.
  1. Prohibition with respect to Going Armed to or Near a Polling Station: is a cognizable offence punishable with imprisonment up to two years or with fine or with both.
  1. Paid Holiday to Employees on the Poll day: violation of this amounts to a fine up to 500rs
  1. Prohibition on Sale of Liquor-: No liquor or other intoxicants shall be sold or given or distributed at any shop, eating place, or any other place, whether private or public, within a polling area during the period of 48 hours ending with the hour fixed for the conclusion of poll. The violation of this rule is punished with imprisonment up to 6 months or fine up to Rs 2000 or both
  1. Time Limit for Bye-elections: Bye-elections to any House of Parliament or a State Legislature will now be held within six months of occurrence of the vacancy in that House. but, this stipulation will not apply in two cases- where the remainder of the term of the member whose vacancy is to be filled is less than one year or where the Election Commission, in consultation with the Central Government, certifies that it is difficult to hold the bye-election within the said period.
  1. The effective campaigning period –has been reduced. The gap between the last date for with drawl of nomination and the polling date has been reduced from 20days to 14 days

Reforms since 2000

Restriction on exit polls-exit poll is an opinion survey regarding how electors have voted etc Thus conducting exist polls and publishing results of exit polls during the election to the Loksabha and state legislative assemblies during the period notified by the election commission shall be punishable with imprisonment up to 2 years and with fine or both.

Ceiling on election expenditure– ceiling on election expenditure for a Loksabha seat has been increased to 40 lakhs in bigger states and it varies between16 to40lakhs in other states and union territories. Similarly, ceiling on election expenditure has been increased in assembly elections to 16 lakhs in bigger states and it varies between 8 to16 lakhs in other states and union territories.

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