We are proud today that the World perceives India as the most Vibrant of Democracies in the Comity of Nations. See how the Universe considers India to be and what are we actually? It is a fact that our Stature during the last Decade has been bubbling up and down, not because of the strains or pressures that have come our way, but due to only one reason, a poor Electoral College being made corrupt by the Politicians who have a Criminal background and who manage to infiltrate as Legislators both in Parliament and our Assemblies through their Money and Muscle Power. Due to this the major problem facing the Country today is that we do not have the Will Power to keep such People out and thereby we cannot afford Good Governance for our People.
CRIMINALIZATION OF POLITICS
The reasons which pull our Country down are because of the Elected Representatives who give us Bad Governance. Most of them are HUNGRY FOR MONEY, LACKING IN CHARACTER, SELFISH TO THE HILT and to some extent Illiterate, as also have CRIMINAL BACKGROUNDS. Remember the Quote : “One Bad Fish Pollutes The Entire Aquarium”. Why is this so? Can’t we keep them out?
After 62 years of Independence have we been able to improve or bring in any Major Reforms in our Electoral System? Do we really feel that we have good and competent Politicians who blend with vibrant thoughts representing us in the Parliament and the Assemblies? It was in the last 10 years or so of Governance that WE had ourselves committed to the People of India to bring Transparency and refine the system so as to give Good Governance. To some extent, I would think we succeeded, but the Over all results have been to say the least DISASTROUS.
WHAT SHOULD BE DONE
A lot more needs to be done and, we must today, sensitive and pressurize our Countrymen not to field or vote for any Candidate who has a Criminal Background or a poor Record, and keep such Personalities far away from contesting the coming Lok-Sabha/Assembly Elections, even if the Individual Candidate may be eligible to contest as per the prevailing Statues which lays down that since he has not been Convicted in the Crime that is against him and therefore he is eligible to contest. This would be the First Reform which would NOT need a change in the Constitution or the Bye Laws laid down by the Election Commission. However it would also require Strong Leaders of our Political Parties to ensure that they also must not back such Individuals or entertain them by allotting or they buying Tickets, to fight an Election. New Age election reforms are needed and unless we really choose our Candidates with a proper system in place there is always going to be a mad rush to procure a ticket by either using money, muscle or clout. The Disqualification of an Aspirant Candidate as per the present Laws operative is that only “a person when CONVICTED of an offence” under various Sections starting with Section 153A, 171F, 376, 376A, B,C or D (offences relating to Rape) and many other sections is eligible to Contest. If this practice were to prevail we will not be able to cut the corruption pattern as it stands today. So why not “Nip the Bud before it Blooms”.
Criminalization of Politics always give rise to Extra-Constitutional Powers which threaten the very root of Indian Democracy. Real Politics is not possible under Tyranny or Oligarchy. What is Democracy? Democracy is based on Ideals such as an Individuals Right’s to Liberty, Speech and Expression. Today Candidates to win an Election use Money and Muscle power which we must strongly curb, with stricter and time bound punishment. Unfortunately our Judicial system is cumbersome and it becomes very difficult to check and punish the Culprits in a reasonable time frame. Some measures must also be initiated today to tackle this serious problem. However by not allocating a Ticket to tainted persons we will certainly be able to curb this menace. Remember, Politics represents a degree of tolerance of Controversies and the People must be educated to understand the Principal of Good Governance that can be conducted only with a sense of discrimination by them between the Desirable and the Undesirable.
MONEY & MUSCLE POWER
In today’s Democracy the rule is to some how win the Election by the use of Money and Muscle Power and then with this Enormous Power go ahead to make more Money, with Mafia Don’s in tow. If we do not allot Tickets to tainted People, this will ensure that Criminals will not be privy to Grave Corruption by LOOTING the People. In this game Big Business Houses will also to have to play a Sterner Role . It is due to them that today they are as much to blame since they have also contributed to render the Constitutional arrangements irrelevant, and if we carry on with Political Parties accepting money from All Sources then the Politician surely also becomes obliged to the Fund-givers. Once the Criminals and Large Corporates obtain a hold on the leadership of Political Parties, they begin to create pressure on Law – enforcing agencies and dictate Policies. According to an estimate approximately 20 to 23% of our Representatives have Criminal Records. I suggest that a Voter also is blameworthy for this State of Affairs as one fears for his life because of the Muscle Men, Police and the Politicians of the Area, and one soon begins to look forward for undue favors which spins money for the Corrupt. The situation becomes worse when the Candidate with a Criminal background himself wins the Election and becomes a Parliamentarian!!!!
It would be prudent and merits consideration if some minimum Educational Qualifications are laid down for entry into the Parliament/Assembly. Today we need to tackle corruption and cleanse Public life. I strongly urge Political Parties that in the next Elections we must help our Indian Democracy by breaking this evil nexus to save our Country from further Disaster. I have earlier in another Article suggested that our Constitution must be amended. What was relevant 62 years ago may not be applicable in today’s up coming atmosphere.
WHAT SHOULD WE DO
We certainly have deep-seated problems in many sectors of the Indian Parliamentary System. Does the fault lie with its implementation? It appears that our Political and Electoral system has some what derailed, which has affected the Social, Economic and Administrative Fabric of the Country. It is clear that now the People (Electorate) must take it into their own hands to make the Politicians deliver the goods. How are we going to do it and what have we to do? People must be educated to understand that in the circumstances prevailing in our Country today, we must avoid Communalism, Casteism, Criminalization, Corruption, Money Power, Muscle Power and Mafia Power.
It is observed that several sensible and practical suggestions have been made in the past, but all efforts at reform have been stymied just for the want of Action. It would appear that Leaders talk about and clamor for reforms just before the Elections but do not follow them and throw them in the basket when they come to Power. Are we serious and honest about free and fair Elections?
SUPREME COURT DIRECTIONS TO ELECTION COMMISSION
In 2002 the Supreme Court had directed the Election Commission in exercise of their Powers of Superintendence, Direction and Control of Elections of Parliament and State Legislatures, conferred on it by Article 324 of the Constitution as follows:
(a) Every candidate at the time of filing his nomination paper for any Election to the Council of States, House of the People, Legislative Council of the State, shall furnish full and complete information regarding CRIMINAL RECORD, FINANCIAL DETAILS and Educational qualifications etc. as specified by the Hon Court in an affidavit.
(b) The said Affidavit by each Candidate shall be duly sworn before a Magistrate of the First Class Notary Public or a Commissioner of Oaths appointed by the High Court of the State Government.
(c) Non – Furnishing of the Affidavit by any Candidate shall be considered a violation of the Order of the Supreme Court and the nomination shall be liable for rejection by the Returning Officer at the time of scrutiny.
(d) Furnishing of any wrong or incomplete information or suppression of any material information by the Candidate in any other form the said Affidavit may also result in the rejection, apart from inviting penal consequences under the Indian Penal Code of furnishing wrong information or suppression of material fact.
(e) The information so furnished by each Candidate in the aforesaid affidavit shall be disseminated by the respective Returning Officers by displaying a copy of the affidavit on the notice board of his office and also by making the copies thereof available freely and liberally to all other Candidates and the Representatives of the Print and Election media.
(f) If any rival Candidate furnishes information to the contrary by means of duly sworn affidavit, then such affidavit of the rival candidate shall also be disseminated along with the affidavit of the Candidate concerned. This was to make the Electoral process more fair, transparent, equitable and to reduce the distortions and evils that had crept into it.
The Supreme Court however delivered another judgment in 2003 upholding Lok Satta’s contention that Section 33 B was inserted in haste by an act of Parliament in the Representation of People ACT 1951 which violated the Peoples Fundamental Right to know, so that they can drive out Criminals from the fray by using their Right to ballot.
However, the key questions remains?
(a) How long can we keep the Criminals away from the arena of elections?
(b) What steps should be taken to ban the Criminal’s entry into the Political Parties?
(c) Politicians must not resist the Voter’s right to know, but try and give it a meaning in a constructive way to protect Parliamentary Democracy.
(d) Each Party must not select or give a Ticket to an Aspirant who has a Tainted or Criminal background.
The Constitution of India has vested in the Election Commission of India the Superintendence, direction and control of the entire process for conduct of Elections of Parliament and Legislature of every State and to the offices of President and Vice-President of India. The President of India appoints the Chief Election Commissioner and other Commissioners who have a tenure of six years or up to the age of 65 years. Their status is equivalent as to the Judges of the Supreme Court. The CEO cannot be removed unless he is impeached by a majority in Parliament.
At the State level the Election work is controlled by the Commission through a Chief Electoral Officer of the State appointed by the Commission. The Tasks Force for conducting a Country vide General Election, consists of nearly 5 million Polling Personal and Civil Police Forces, who are on deputation to the Election Commission for Command and Control during the period of Election.
In the performance of its functions, the Election Commission is insulated from Executive interference. It is the Commission which decides the Election schedules for the conduct of elections, whether General Elections or Bye-Elections. Again, it is the Commission which decides on the location of polling Stations, Assignment of voters to the polling station, location of counting centers, arrangements to be made in and around polling stations and the Counting Centers and all allied matters.
Under the Constitution the Commission also has Advisory Jurisdiction in the matter of Disqualification. They further have the Powers to disqualify persons found guilty of corrupt practices during Elections.
Voter’s Participation in the Democratic and Electoral processes is integral to the successful running of any Democracy and the very basis of wholesome Democratic Elections. Recognizing this, the Election Commission of India, in 2009, formally even adopted a VOTER EDUCATION AND ELECTORAL PARTICIPATION PROGRAMME as an integral part of their Election Management. Would they not want to share as to the programmes that they run for Voter Education in the various States in India for the benefit of the People.
RECOGNITION BY WORLD
It is also a fact that Election Officials from several Countries in the World are seeking & sharing our experience of our Voting Pattern such as Russia, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Indonesia, South Africa, Bangladesh, Thailand, Nigeria, Namibia, Bhutan, Australia, the United States and Afghanistan. We also provide experts and observers for elections in other Countries through the United Nations and Commonwealth Secretariat. These Countries have also taken a variety of measures to check Criminalization of Politics in their respective States. The People of India must now look up to the Election Commission to show us the way as to how to keep Criminals out of Parliaments and Assembly’s Elections.
It is a well known fact that a number of Elected Representatives to Local Bodies, State Legislatures and even Parliament today are persons of unsavory reputation and, some of them hardened Criminals!!! You read and follow the TV Channels ,even today, openly pointing fingers on such Characters, but does any Party take any Action against them? It appears that the Top Brass are totally Paralyzed, may be due to several reasons. The reason that strikes an AAM ADMI is that they themselves are involved and please remember the famous words “People who stay in Glass Houses must not throw stones on others” You scratch my Back and I scratch Your!!
RECOMMENDATION’S FOR POLITICAL PARTIES TO FOLLOW
It is my well considered opinion that we must immediately get together to rid India of Parliamentarians who are publicly known to be involved in malpractices and Criminal Politics. While the constrains of the present Law permits Charge Sheeted Individuals (unless finally convicted) open to fight an Election without fear. There may be horrible charges such as Rape, Abetment of Funds, Indecent Behavior and Disgraceful Conduct against the individual but he still fights an Election – Win’s it- and continues with the same Crimes till the case is finally closed by a conviction of the Highest Court available in the Country. In our Courts, hundreds of cases are pending today but the Caravan moves on till Eternity.
PRIME MINISTERIAL CANDIDATE
Would the People of India like to consider whether the present controversy regarding the naming of the PRIME MINISTERIAL candidate’s should be announced prior to or after the process of Election when results are announced. It is for the People to consider as to what benefit would accrue to the People or the Party by such an announcement. Today in India we have a Multiparty system with a predominance of small Regional Parties in the States. There are 6 National Parties, 64 State level Parties registered and 100’s of State Parties which are unrecognized.
As far as the Prime Ministerial candidate is concerned there is an involvement of only Two Main Parties : The Congress and The BJP which would involve only Two names. Would it not be prudent to suggest that unnecessary Debates which have been initiated and are taking place For or Against a Candidate (PM) must be avoided. This is not a healthy sign and a large number of misguided gossips and insinuations are being levied on Personalities which is unhealthy. To my way of thinking would it not be better if the name of the Prime Minister be announced in an Open House First Session in Parliament when All members would be present? This practice has its merits since the largest Single Party in Parliament would be called upon to name their Prime Minister.
However an added advantage in this would be that a large number of other Party Parliamentarians who have been elected are likely to also back the first name announced. This would show Alliances and Partners which will work together for smoother future functioning. The main Alliances are the UPA and the NDA and other Parties could also be identified who will back the Government. Today unfortunately the Ruling Party is all the time busy placating their Partners not to withdraw support lest the Government falls. Some times it is possible that the Ruling Party would have to give large concessions to stay in Power which may not be in the overall interest of the Party or at the cost of other Parties and the Country. The individual Parties today are however free to name their Prime Minister in waiting. The ruckus created by the NDA and their Allies may be justified by them but there is no restriction to name their Prime Minister before the Elections are held. In fact it would be an interesting information as a added input for the People of India to quantify through the Media as to which way the wind blows and interesting for the People to start dreaming as to the margin of percentage of votes which will swing the polls in whose favor in Parliament.
Every Party must immediately embody itself with a own Lok Pal/Loka yukat, Election Watch Body or a Watch Dog Committee which will ensure that a Criminal would not be allowed to fight for the Party. This type of Committee would consist of People of the Highest Integrity who would recommend the debarring of a Candidate for fighting Elections due to his Past Reputation or Conduct.
The presence of People with a Criminal Background in Parliament and Legislative Assembly’s directly affects the Democratic structure and working of our Country.
After selection of Candidates from various Constituencies the Party Watch Committee- must organize a Ten days Training cum Information seminar where every Candidate would be present and a syllabi must be presented, studied and discussed as to what would be his Duties as a Member of the Parliament / Assembly. Open discussions to learn and quantify one’s Duties and Behavior will be thoroughly discussed and simulated by the Participants.
After the First Session-give a break and allow all Aspirants to get back into their Constituencies, where they can do their practical ground training by interaction with their Electorate.
The short listed Candidates then once again must have a Second Session and congregate for a shorter spell, of say a week or Ten days, where they would answer a Question Paper which would be set on an Objective Type of setting. Time would also be utilized for Questions and Answer sessions, and threadbare Discussions, with no holds barred from all aspiring Contestants. This would NOT be the end. The next grueling test is yet to come. I strongly urge we follow what I am about to say and seriously suggest :-
A MEDICAL test of the Candidates must be carried out after which they would be geared to follow the FINAL test of being a TRUE INDIAN and an ASPIRANT TO BECOME A WORTHY POLITICIAN :-
(a) A SEVEN DAYS ATTACHMENT ON THE HIGHEST BATTLEFIELD IN THE WORLD!!!! THE SIACHEN GLACIER where they will live, sleep and eat under similar conditions where our Brave Countryman are today positioned to ensure that the Parliamentarians continue to have fruitful discussions under peaceful conditions in DELHI for serving the People of India.
(b) A SEVEN DAY ATTACHMENT WITH THE INDIAN AIR FORCE where they will see for themselves how our Brave Air Force Men are ready to strike any Enemy at the drop of a pin, and finally.
(c) A SEVEN DAY ATTACHMENT WITH THE BRAVE MEN OF THE NAVY where they will have the thrill to remain submerged under water in the Submarines for hours together on tinned rations!!
Like it? – Good – Prepared to do it? Good- Now I guarantee you – you shall Succeed – Good!!
I am sanguine that if our Aspirants to the Parliament and Assembly seats, pass these tests they would be the finest lot of Parliamentarians ever found in the World. I would also like to take on myself a commitment that if in the above process YOU become a Martyr, I UNDERTAKE TO GIVE YOU A CEREMONIAL CREMATION with the Bugles and a Salute.
From my sources I learn t that the Vice President of the Congress Party Rahul Gandhi has already started the process of examining as to how to give GOOD GOVERNANCE to the People of India in the next Elections and his key suggestions are to eliminate Criminals, Money and Muscle Power from the Poll Process. It is indeed refreshing that the Young Congress scion is gearing up for the Assembly and Parliamentary Polls. Well Done Congratulations.
It would be very apt for all Parties to also lay down the percentage of Age Groups and Genders to be fielded during the Elections. I would suggest that we have a mix of 30% of Women, 30% of Youth, 20% mix of Experienced hands from the Civil services, Army, Police and Corporate House Representatives, and over and above this 10% Old and Experienced hands who have an unblemished record of Service Politically or other wise (who may be today even much over the Retiring Age) but still would be able to recall History, Connect Past Experiences with the Present Situation,s so that there is continuity of Thought and Action.
What ever has been produced above is from gathering data and facts available to me as also my own views. The time has come to seriously consider whether India should SPUTNIK (satellite first launched in Space 4 Oct,1957 by the Soviet Union) or SPUTTER (to make explosive sounds which are weak, varied and don’t make people feel confident). TAKE YOUR CHOICE.
A Big Thank you Chief Justice of India and all the judiciary
I salute the Chief Justice of India and the entire Judiciary for their recent Directions to “KEEP CRIMINALS & CRIMINALITY OUT OF PARLIAMENT” Well Done and Thank you all-I would today compare the entire Judiciary with our Brave Jawans guarding the Siachen Glacier who ensure that the Country is free from External Threats and Corruption is the Internal Threat. My comments on this website were written in March 2013 on this subject ELECTIONS 2013-2014 KEEP CRIMINALS & CRIMINALITY OUT OF PARLIAMENT