In this essay we will discuss about the Chief Election Commissioner of India. After reading this essay you will learn about: 1. Chief Election Commissioner 2. Election Commission 3. Multi-Member Commission 4. Code of Conduct for Political Parties 5. Chief Electoral Officers 6. The Delimitation Commission 7. Evaluation of the Work of Election Commission 8. 1967-1991 Elections 9. Poll Reforms.
List of Essays on the Chief Election Commissioner of India
- Essay on the Chief Election Commissioner
- Essay on the Election Commission
- Essay on the Multi-Member Commission
- Essay on the Code of Conduct for Political Parties
- Essay on the Chief Electoral Officers
- Essay on the Delimitation Commission
- Essay on the Evaluation of Work of Election Commission
- Essay on 1967-1991 Elections
- Essay on Poll Reforms
1. Essay on the Chief Election Commissioner:
In India all elections will be conducted under the control and supervision of Chief Elections Commissioner.
According to Article 324(2) of the Constitution:
“The Election Commissioner shall consist of the Chief Election Commissioner and such number of other Election Commissioners, if any, as the President may from time to time fix and the appointment of Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners shall, subject to the provisions, if any, be made in that behalf by the President”.
Appointment and Removal of CEC:
Chief Election Commissioner is to be appointed by the President and he shall hold office during his pleasure. He can, however, be removed from his position, when an Address has been presented to the President charging him of either misbehaviour or incapacity to discharge his constitutional obligations.
It is provided that such an Address should be supported by each House separately by an absolute majority of each House and also by not less than two-third members present and voting. In this way procedure for his removal has been made deliberately difficult so that he can work without fear of either executive government or that 6f the legislature.
In order to ensure his impartiality, it is also provided that during the term of his service, his emoluments shall not be changed to his disadvantage. This has again been done to avoid pressures and influence of the executive government on the Chief Election Commissioner who can, however, resign at any time, whenever, he finds it inconvenient to continue on his position.
Functions of Chief Election Commissioner:
Chief Election Commissioner is supposed to work with all impartiality and ensure that all elections in the country are conducted in free and impartial manner. He is accordingly required to keep election machinery free from the pressure of executive and legislative influences. He is to ensure that electoral rolls are kept up-to-date, so that elections to the Parliament, State Legislative Assemblies and local bodies can be conducted at any time without any delay.
Then it is his responsibility to superintend, direct and control all elections in the country. In India, from time to time questions are raised whether a member has incurred any disqualifications for being elected to either House of Parliament or state legislature or at any stage thereafter.
He advises the President or the state Governor, when such an advice is sought. He is also required to appoint Election Officers to enquire into doubts and disputes which might arise out of inadequate election arrangements.
At times he may feel the need and necessity of Regional Election Commissioners, feeling that work with him has so much increased that it shall not be possible for him to finish that without their active co-operation. It is left to him to advise the President to make such appointments.
Election Symbol Disputes:
In India, during these years disputes about election symbols have much increased. Soon after independence Indian National Congress which was the main political party had been allotted a symbol and the party continued to have that for more than a decade.
Other political parties which were allotted symbols at national level were the Communist Party of India, the Bhartiya Jan Sangh and so on. Each party had an election symbol of its own and the problem was not serious, because then there were no split in the parties.
But for the Election Commission problem arose when parties began to split and each party claimed that it was the real party entitled to contest on the election symbol already available to the party. After 1969, there were splits in the Congress party and on each occasion the Chief Election Commissioner had to decide which was the real Congress to whom election symbol should be allotted.
Communist party got itself divided into C.P.I, and C.P.I. (M). Then there was a split in the Janata Party which got itself divided into B.P.J., JP (JP), Janata (S) and so on. It is the duty of the Chief Election Commissioner to decide to whom election symbol should be allotted. Since it is a difficult task, therefore, to avoid complications, what immediately is done is that disputed election symbol is freezed and new symbols, are allotted to the disputed parties.
Even otherwise problem of allotting election symbols is becoming very complex, because the number of independent candidates is increasing after every election. The problem can be imagined from the fact that in 1989 general elections to the Lok Sabha in Bhiwani (Haryana) Lok Sabha constituency there were so many independent candidates that full news paper size ballot paper had to be prepared and allotment of election symbol to each candidate posed a problem for the Election Commission.
For a very long time opposition political parties were not given an opportunity to approach the electorates through mass media but in recent years all political parties are provided an opportunity to appear on radio and T.V. The Chief Election Commissioner decides about timings of the broadcast and the actual time which such political party may be allotted.
At the time of 1989 general elections some national political parties declined to express their views on T.V. and AIR because of government decision not to allow to any party to discuss Bofor gun deal issue in the election speech.
In India so far every effort has been made to see that only those persons are appointed as Chief Election Commissioners who have created a name for their honesty and are politically non-controversial. The idea is that such a person should enjoy the confidence of all political parties and his decisions are fully accepted.
2. Essay on the Election Commission:
Under the Constitution it is provided that there shall be an Election Commission which shall be headed by the Chief Election Commissioner.
This Commission, according to the constitution, shall be required to perform several functions. It is the responsibility of this Commission to issue directives to the returning officers, polling and other officers engaged in the preparation and revision of electoral rolls so that every citizen of India who is entitled to vote finds a place in the electoral list.
It is the responsibility of this Commission to superintend, direct and control all elections and get the electoral rolls prepared for the elections of Parliament and state legislatures and offices of the President and Vice-President of India.
It is again this Commission which decides election schedule i.e., the dates on which nominations should be sent, the dates of withdrawal and the dates on which elections will be held in different constituencies.
Since India is a big country and it is difficult to have sufficient staff to manage the election all in one day, therefore, it decides the dates of the elections. In some snow bound regions elections are held only when snow has melted and the people are in a position to vote.
The Commission is to ensure that only those persons cast their vote, who are entitled to it and that there is no impersonification. In a big country like India chances of such impersonification by few cannot be ruled out.
The Commission, however, ensures that these are reduced to the minimum and those found guilty are punished. In order to avoid fraud by the electorates the Commission has asked the states to issue identity cards to the voters.
In fact, some of the states have already issued such cards to the voters while others are finding in difficult to do so because of financial constraints. At one point of time Chief Election Commissioner, T.N. Seshan, even threatened that he would not allow the conduct of elections in some states where these were due in 1994.
Bihar government even moved the Supreme Court where CEC assured that elections in the state will be held even without identity cards. No voter will however, be denied the right to vote because he does not possess an identity card.
It is again the responsibility of the Commission to decide where polling booths should be set up so that electorates are not required to travel a long distance and none is required to wait in the queue for a long time. In this regard every care is to be taken that each polling booth has only such number of electorates, as can conveniently cast their vote.
In case the number is unmanageable then many will have to go back without casting their vote.
Still another responsibility of the Election Commission is to ensure that counting of votes goes on undisturbed.
Since elections in India are not held at interval of few days in different parts of the Country, therefore, Election Commission is to see that till the elections are overall ballot boxes are not touched and that the counting should start only when available trends of elections already held are not likely to influence elections of other constituencies.
It is to see that counting is smooth and those present at the time of counting do not disturb the work.
Again it is the responsibility of this Commission to prepare a code of conduct for all political parties and independent candidates who are contesting elections. Not only this, that such a conduct has been prepared and accepted, but also to see that it is actually observed and those who violate it are pulled up. T.N. Seshan, as Chief Election Commissioner very strictly observed this code during 1994 state Assemblies elections.
It is the responsibility of the Commission to see that the election expenses are reduced to the minimum, so that both the poor and the rich can contest elections and the money does not play its part. This, of course, is not an easy task because the prices are rising and in each parliamentary constituency, the candidates are expected to conduct election meetings and launch poster war, in addition to holding corner meetings and approaching the voters.
The Election Commission is ensures that the amount which each candidate has spent within the ceiling fixed by law. Each candidate is required to send return of expenses. Election of a winning candidate can be declared void, if election expenses are not in accordance with the norms laid down by the Commission.
Before T.N. Seshan took over as Chief Election Commissioner in spite of existence of rules fixing upper limit for incurring expenses on election by a candidate, much attention was not paid to it.
He decided to strictly enforce this limit and kept a vigilant eye on that. He even posted financial experts in the constituencies in the states where election were being held in 1994. This resulted in lowering down of election expenses and reducing the role of money power in elections.
Election Commission has desired all candidates contesting eleventh Lok Sabha elections and also elections going to be held for six Legislative Assemblies going to be held in April-May 1996, to keep is daily account of election expenses, which were open to checking by Commission staff. It has also decided to depute financial experts in each constituency to assess the election expenses being incurred by each candidate.
Sometimes new parties get birth and these approach the Commission for recognition as national parties. The Commission decides, whether any newly born political party has so much following that it deserves to be recognised as a national or regional party.
Election of the office of the President and Vice-President of India is to be held at regular intervals. It is the duty of the Commission to see that elections to both these offices are held timely and in accordance with the rules prescribed by law.
In this regard the Commission is always to remain in readiness because vacancy can fall vacant at any time. In India office of the President of India fell suddenly vacant when Dr. Zakir Hussain and Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed died while in office.
All election results are announced by the Election Commission. No person can take an oath of office or deemed to have been elected unless his election has been notified by the Chief Election Commissioner and he has been declared successful.
Thus, responsibilities and functions of the Election Commission are rather very many. It is because constitution fathers wanted that the Commission should work in free and impartial manner. It was also because the founding fathers desired that each voter should cast his or her vote fearlessly. In fact, they wanted that right to vote to every adult citizen should be included as a Fundamental Right of the citizen of India.
The constitution has made a provision for the appointment of other Election Commissioners and Regional Commissioners to assist the Chief Election Commissioner, in the performance of his functions. It is also provided in the constitution that the President or Governor of a state, shall, when so requested by the Election Commission, make available to him or Regional Commissioner, such staff as may be necessary for the discharge of his functions.
Before the passing of Nineteenth Constitution Amendment Act Election Commission was the only competent body to decide election disputes. But with the passing of this Act this power was taken away from the Commission and vested in the High Courts.
Article 325 of the constitution provides that no person shall be made eligible for inclusion in or to claim to be included in a special electoral roll on grounds of religion, race, caste or sex and that all elections to the Parliament or the State legislatures will be held on the basis of universal adult suffrage.
At present it is provided that only those Indian citizens, who have attained 18 years of age shall be entitled to vote. Article 329 of the constitution provides that the validity of any law relating to the delimitation of the constituencies or the allotment of seats to such constituencies shall not be called in question in any court.
It is also provided that no election to either House of Parliament or to the House or either House of legislature of a state shall be called in question except by an election petition presented to such authority and in such a manner as may be provided for or under any law made by the appropriate legislature.
This Article of the constitution was amended and it was provided by the addition of a new Article 329 A that no election to either House of Parliament of ‘a person who holds the office of the Prime Minister at the time of such election or is appointed as Prime Minister after such election’ shall be called in question. Forty-Fourth Constitution Amendment Act, however, omitted the newly incorporated Article 329 A of the constitution.
3. Essay on the Multi-Member Commission:
Election Commission in India since independence was single member commission. It consisted of Chief Election Commissioner only. In 1989, when elections were going to be held it was made a multi-member Commission on the plea that because of lowering of voting age from 21 to 18 years, the work load with the Commission has so much increased that it is not possible to cope that by one member Commission.
Two more Election Commissioners were added to it, thus, making it multi-member rather than keeping in it a single member Commission. When National Front government took charge at the centre it decided to make it a single member Commission. Two other members were relieved of their duties. The Commission thus once again became a single member body.
Narsimha Government, for various reasons decided to make Election Commission once again a multi-member commission and appointed two other Commissioners in addition to Chief Election Commissioner. The ordinance which provided for multi-member commission also stated that all the three members shall have co-equal powers and that all decisions in the Commission will be taken by a majority of votes.
The main reason for the promulgation of the ordinance in October 1993 is said to be confrontation between the Government and Chief Election Commissioner T.N. Seshan because of his:
(a) Postponement of some bye-elections and beinnial elections to the Rajya Sabha.
(b) His threat not to hold elections to the State Assembly/ Parliament without the issue of identity cards to all voters.
(c) His insistence that a candidate for the Rajya Sabha must be ordinarily a resident of the state which he will be representing in that House.
(d) That Election Commission shall have exclusive powers to the deployment of the Central police forces at the time of election.
(e) That the staff once deputed on election duty will work under the direction of the election till the elections are over and that it shall be competent to take disciplinary action against any such staff member.
Chief Election Commissioner however challenged this decision of the government on the plea that:
(1) The Chief Election Commissioner cannot equated with other Election Commissioners because whereas the former held constitutional position, the others did not. The other Commissioners were to be appointed by the government and as such both could not be equal.
(2) The work in the Commission was not so heavy as to need the services of three Commissioners.
(3) By providing that all decisions will be taken by majority of votes, the Commission will become a government department because that will get all decisions through its appointed Elections Commissioners. Thus, the independence of the Commission will come an end. It was against the scheme provided by constitution fathers who wished independent Election Commission headed by Chief Election Commissioner.
(4) For smooth conduct of elections it was essential that there should be single member Election Commission because on many occasions, when elections are in progress, decisions are to be conveyed on phone or by fax and this could not be possible when there is multi-member commission.
The court in an interim order accepted the view point of Chief Election Commissioner, who in turn did not treat other two Commissioners as his equal. There was tussle between Chief Election Commissioner on the one hand and two other Commissioners on the other. But in its final order the court upheld the decision of the government.
It meant that multi-member Commission was not un-constitutional and also that there was nothing wrong in the Act providing that all decisions in the Commission shall be taken by majority of vote. Chief Election Commissioner, T.N. Seshan also submitted a review petition before the court urging that the court may review its decision, but court upheld its previous decision.
Thus, since 1995, Election Commission is a multi-member Commission and in it all decisions are taken by majority of votes.
4. Essay on the Code of Conduct for Political Parties:
It is the main responsibility of the Election Commission to see that elections are conducted throughout the country very peacefully. For this it is essential that political parties should be taken into confidence. It is with the help and co-operation of political parties that this purpose can be achieved. Unless major political parties contesting elections co-operate in the observation of Code no code of conduct can be a success.
It is at the time of every election that such a code is revised in the light of experience gained at the time of previous elections.
When the code was last given it was provided that no political party or individual candidate should involve himself in any activity which creates hatred or aggravates differences or results in creating of tension between castes and communities, both religious and linguistic.
It was expected of all political parties that there should be no mud slugging on individual candidates. Only policies, programmes and past performance of the political parties or the individual candidates should be focused and criticised.
No political party or candidate should try to disturb or obstruct meetings and processions of any other political party or candidate.
The government should not impose any undue restrictions on civil liberties of the people, so that all candidates can express their view point without any fear and cast their vote in favour of the candidate of their choice.
No religious place should be used for election purposes.
No candidate should try to secure votes in his own favour or in the favour of his party candidates by touching religious sentiments of the voters or in the name of caste or by arousing communal feelings.
It shall be the duty of each political party and candidate to extend maximum co-operation to the officials on duty to ensure that polling is calm and peaceful.
No candidate should be compelled to cast his/her vote in favour of a particular candidate. On the other hand every party or candidate should help creating an atmosphere in which each voter casts his vote in favour of candidate of his choice.
Under the constitution there are certain offences and practices which have been categorised as ‘corrupt practices’. It is the duty of each one to avoid indulging in these practices.
Identity slips issued by the party to the voters will be on plain white paper and not contain any symbol, name of the candidate or the party.
No liquor, should be sold or distributed on the election day and 12 hours preceding the election.
When a political party or candidate wants to hold an election meeting he should do so with the permission of local authorities and inform them well in time so that all precautionary measures are taken for controlling traffic and other untoward happenings. If for conducting these meetings loud speaker is needed, where necessary, permission for that should also be obtained in advance.
In case any political party or candidate is found disturbing meeting of the opponent, the organisers should themselves not take law in their hands and start taking action but on the other hand seek co-operation of local authorities.
In case any political party wants to deviate the route of its procession, advance notice should be given for that and in case local authorities anticipate any difficulty, that should be appreciated. Similarly while taking out procession political parties or candidates should ensure that the processionists do not carry articles which can be put to misuse by undesirable elements,, especially during moments of excitement.
Then the code also provided that effigies of leaders of the political parties or individual candidates should not be carried or burnt, as these result in tensions of high order.
No political party or individual candidate should organise any demonstrations or picketingâ€™s before the house of political leader, even if they resent or disagree with his political opinions or activities being undertaken by him.
No political party or individual candidate shall use walls for writings slogans or pasting posters, etc., without the permission of the owner of the house or property. After elections held in Delhi in 1993 Chief Election Commissioner ordered that all walls on which slogans had been written during election days should be white washed. No election meetings should be organised on private land without clear permission of the owner.
All political parties should ensure that there are no prohibitory orders in force in the area in which meeting is proposed to be organised.
It may be mentioned that code has moral and not legal binding. Thus, its violation does not lead to disqualification of the candidate from election.
Almost the same Code of Conduct has been accepted by political parties for the elections to the held for eleventh Lok Sabha and six state Legislative Assemblies in April-May, 1996.
Postponement of Elections:
When elections for some state Assemblies were held around 1994 Election Commission very often postponed elections in many constituencies and in many others it ordered re-polling on one account or the other. These being inadequate security arrangements, alleged capturing of polling booths, misuse of power by the government in one form or other, etc.
This was all done in the name of free and fair polls but resulted in many inconveniences to the state government concerned, increased cost of election expenses and resulted in delayed election results. Not only this but Election Commission at one point of time postponed Punjab Assembly elections a day earlier of the holding of elections, when all arrangements had been made and polling was to take place next morning.
But Election Commission exerted itself in November 1995 over the holding of elections in Kashmir. The Government of India decided to hold elections in that state. But some major political parties were opposed to the holding of election there as in their opinion climate was not favourable for that.
The Commission there upon decided to have its own assessment by assessing situation on the spot. Accordingly all the three members of the Commission visited the valley and unanimously held the view that free and fair polls in the state could not be held and accordingly the Government had to postpone the elections.
Some critics tried to stress that it was for the government to decide whether time for holding election was favourable or not and that the Election Commission was only to conduct the elections. But Commission firmly held the view that there was no idea of holding the elections unless these were fair and free and the Commission was constitutionally responsible for that.
5. Essay on the Chief Electoral Officers:
From the very beginning it was, however, felt that it will be impossible for the Chief Election Commissioner, sitting at the head quarters to speedily discharge all the obligations which constitution had put on him. Therefore, at the time of first general elections, in the country in each state a Chief Election Officer was appointed by the Chief Election Commissioner.
This officer was appointed in consultation with the state government concerned and this practice continues even today with slight modifications. Though Chief Election Commissioner is quite competent to appoint Chief Electoral Officer, yet in actual practice, state government gives a panel of few names and one out of that is picked up for the post.
It is the duty and responsibility of Chief Electoral Officer to ensure that electoral rolls of his state are kept up-to-date and periodically revised as well, so that, if need be elections in the state are held without much delay. At the time of election he is to ensure that there are no disturbances and elections are finished quickly and smoothly.
Again he is to be sure that all instructions received from Chief Election Commissioner are fully well carried out without any delay and in the spirit in which these are issued. In some states Chief Electoral Officer is assisted by Deputy Chief Electoral Officer.
But India resides in villages and quite a large number of electorates live in villages and small towns spread over districts. Each district has a Returning Officer, who is senior officer at the district level. He is assisted by Assistant Returning Officer.
In election matters Returning Officer is very important officer. He receives all the nomination papers, scrutinises these and decides whether papers submitted are valid or not. He also declares results of the election.
6. Essay on the Delimitation Commission:
Population of India increases after every census, which is conducted after every decade. Similarly the people of India have every right and full freedom to settle in any part of the country. It becomes, therefore, imperative that the constituencies should be delimited after each census, so that each constituency has almost equal number of electorates and there is not much unbalancing.
But the task is not easy because it involves the fate of many political personalities.
A constituency which might be considered safe for a political party today, might become unsafe tomorrow when new areas which do not have electorates having sympathies for that political party are added to it. In this way a safe constituency might become unsafe and may not return the same person, who was hitherto being returned from there.
But delimitation is unavoidable. For this purpose in 1952 an Act was passed which provided for the setting up of Delimitation Commission. The Act also provides that the Commission shall consist of three members, one being ex-officio, the Chief Election Commissioner and other two members shall be serving or retiring judges of either High Court or Supreme Court.
In addition to this there will be seven associate members, who shall be taken from the Assembly of the State concerned, which is being delimited and members of the Lok Sabha from the state. The Commission invites view point of the public through petition and press, before it takes a final decision. But once a decision has been taken that is final and cannot be challenged in any court of law, on any pretext.
Since it has been decided that the number of seats in the Lok Sabha shall not be increased and no constituency changes shall be made till the census figures of census taken in 2000 A.D. are available, the work of Delimitation Commission has considerably decreased.
7. Essay on the Evaluation of Work of Election Commission:
To conduct elections in India is not an easy affair, because of India’s being the biggest democracy of the world. The Commission is required to make elaborate arrangements for crores of the voters who are brought on the electoral rolls.
Their number goes on increasing after every election. The Commission is every time faced with the problem of revising the electoral rolls, winning the co-operation of political parties and candidates for adhering to code of conduct, so that elections are held smoothly.
Then another problem is that with every election number of candidates who wish to contest elections has been increasing. There is problem of allotting symbol to each such candidate. The problem of allotting symbols to political parties which get divided due to internal differences is no less a serious problem.
Printing of ballot papers for crores of the voters and maintaining records and account of each ballot paper is no less a serious problem.
There are quite often complaints that in some areas members of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes are not allowed to cast their vote. It is really a very serious problem for the Election Commission to ensure that no one, who is interested to cast vote, is interested by any other individual and party and thus denied the right, which the constitution has given to him.
Then arranging lakhs of polling booths and providing each such booth with adequate staff, transportation of ballot boxes and staff from polling booth to places of security is in no way a less problem when viewed in Indian situation. In fact, at no stage till the results are out the Commission’s headache is anyway less.
But so far the Commission has been performing its duties to satisfaction of all major political parties. No serious allegations have been levied against it. It has been making constant efforts to reduce time in completing its work. First General Elections were completed in 100 days, whereas period within which Second General Elections were completed was just about 3 weeks.
This period has now come down to just 3-4 days, when elections all over India are completed. 1989 general elections to the Lok Sabha and five state Assemblies were completed just in three days i.e., on 22, 24 & 26 November, 1989. This is no less significant an achievement.
There are complaints in some quarters that at the time of elections influential persons get bogus votes cast in their favour, by purchasing votes. This they feel very much tilts the balance and those who really enjoy the support of the masses are defeated.
To check this mischievous manipulation, the Commission has asked states to issue a photo identity card to each voter. This will ensure that only genuine persons cast their vote and none other.
Of course, in India at the time of elections, money plays its part. It is not easy for a poor man to bear election expenses and to cater whole constituency by holding meetings and launching posters campaigns, etc. But it is a problem which is not in the hands of the Commission.
All that the Commission can do is that it should ensure that each candidate spends within the prescribed limits and that the Commission is doing that with all earnestness.
8. Essay on 1967-1991 Elections:
Each election in India has aroused considerable interest. But quite some time it was felt that in India system of universal adult franchise will not succeed. Main arguments of course being that in India the people are poor and can be corrupted and secondly that they are illiterate and thus cannot understand or appreciate national and international problems which a mature electorate is supposed to have before casting his vote.
But maturity of Indian electorate has been fully established and this has made many remark that Indian electorate is uncertain. Since 1967 Indian electorate have been telling the world, that it is not only mature but also cannot be taken for granted.
As a result of elections held in 1967, Indian electorates returned National Congress to power at the centre with a thin margin and did not vote the party to power in many states, where SVD and, UF governments were voted to power.
But coalition governments failed to deliver the goods and, the electorates did not hesitate to vote out of power when the mid-term elections were held in 1971. At this time they voted Congress (N), then led by Mrs. Gandhi to power, with thumping majority. It was felt that her control as well as that of her party was complete and the masses were with them.
Then came 1977 elections. It was a time when emergency had just been lifted and there was some sort of fear psychology among the people. Many had thought that the people would not attend public meetings of newly formed Janata party which was then challenging the authority of ruling Congress and Prime Minister Smt. Indira Gandhi.
But electorates gave a very good rebuff to such political pandits. To the surprise of whole world the voters in India voted Janata party to power, both at the Centre as well as in the whole of North India, where Congress party could manage to win only thirteen Lok Sanha seats.
Prime Minister Smt. Indira Gandhi herself was defeated at the polls. This was historic election because for the first time Congress party was voted out of power at the Centre and wiped out from the political map of North India, insofar as the Lok Sabha and the State Assemblies were concerned.
But no less historic were the elections held in 1980. The people of India had voted Janata party to power in 1977. But the party completely bowed down under the pressure of its own differences and could not complete a full term of five years. One after the other, its constituents left the party ultimately creating a situation of instability, resulting in the dissolution of the Lok Sabha and holding of elections in 1980.
In this Congress (I) led by Smt. Indira Gandhi was again voted to power with still more massive majority. North India which had withdrawn its support from the Prime Minister in 1977, again gave its support, disowning Janata party.
Elections were again held at the end of 1984. By that time Mrs. Indira Gandhi was not on the scene and she had been succeeded by her son Rajiv Gandhi, who was then not even forty. Many had hoped that the country will disintegrate. But Indian electorates again showed remarkable maturity by returning Congress (I) to majority at the Centre and thus saved the country from disintegration.
Ninth Lok Sabha elections were held in 1989. At that time Congress(l) was in power and opposition parties were trying to forge unity. As a result of their efforts National Front consisting of few opposition parties came into being. As an electoral strategy opposition parties decided to have only one candidate against congress (I) candidate in every constituency.
The electorates again showed their maturity. Except from south India Congress (I) lost its hold and it was voted out of power from the centre for the second time. Newly formed National Front was voted in power and formed government at the centre.
In all these elections, Election Commission did a commendable work. It not only established its political neutrality but also accomplished its task in a remarkably short time and ensured that elections were held without any untoward happenings.
In 1989 elections some disturbing trends were witnessed. There were many instances of violence in which many lives were lost. The instances of booth capturing were also very many. In more than 1000 polling booths re-polling had to be ordered.
Even re-polling in some booths in Amethi constituency from where Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was contesting had to be ordered. Both poll violence and booth capturing have became a matter of concern.
V.P. Singh government hardly remained in power for about a year when it went out of power. In 1991 elections to the Lok Sabha were held under care taker government headed by Chandra Shekhar. These were completed without any serious problems.
But again National Front government had to resign and in the fresh election for the tenth Lok Sabha held in 1991. Congress (I) was returned to Lok Sabha as the single largest party. Its leader P.V. Narsimha Rao formed the government at the centre. Gradually it became a majority government.
The government completed its full term of five years, though some had expected otherwise. Elections for the convening of eleventh Lok Sabha were held in May, 1996 under tight security arrangement. These were practically violence free and as stated above in many ways had peculiarities of its own.
9. Essay on Poll Reforms:
In India, as the time is passing with that need and necessity of poll reforms is being increasingly felt. It is now being realised that money is playing more and more important role. This has increased the importance of black money and multi-nationals in our country, thus, endangering country’s national sovereignty.
The violence is also increasing, thus bringing goondaism in elections. National Front Government of V.P. Singh promised important poll reforms. It thought in terms of state funding of elections. Peri-Sastri then Chief Election Commissioner suggested that in order to check booth capturing, the candidate for whose favour booths are captured should be debarred from holding any public office for a period of 10 years.
Efforts are already being made to introduce electronic machines at the time of Elections. Election Commission tries to ensure that no transfer of senior officers is made when elections have been announced and even much earlier.
It wants that borrowed staff on election duty may be treated as Election Commission staff so that the Commission can issue any instructions to it and enforce its discipline as well. Thus, efforts are being made to remove poll problems so that fair elections are held in a much better way every time.
But the problem is very serious. Chief Election Commissioner has pointed out as many as 150 corruption practices during elections, out of these 27 mal-practices are at the stage of preparation of electoral rolls, 14 in the setting of polling stations, nine concerning nomination and scrutiny, thirty with regard to electioneering, 17 about actual polling, four concerning election petitions, etc.
The role of money power has considerably increased in elections and so is the case with that of the goondas criminals and mafia.
The number of criminals, history sheers, smugglers, anti-social elements and even murders who offer themselves as candidates and get elected to the elected bodies is increasing. Not only this, but after getting themselves elected they patronise the criminals and law enforcing agencies find it difficult to check their activities or to apprehend them for their offences.
Elections are day-by-day becoming costly. Role of black money in elections has become a matter of concern of all political parties. All wish that politics should be freed from criminals and criminal-politician nexus should be smashed.
All political parties realise the need of electoral reforms:
(1) In order to reduce the role of black money in elections, the possibility of state funding of elections should be explored. The funding should be in kind and not in money.
(2) There should be state auditing of all funds raised by the political parties and also about their spending.
(3) Company donations to political parties should be banned.
(4) All political parties should make their collections open on the basis of openly granted receipts, which means that political contributions should be collected exclusively by the sale of officially authorised coupons duly accounted for by the collectors and a public appeal made that contribution to political parties should be made only by purchasing authorised official coupons.
(5) Booth capturing should be made not only a criminal offence but those involved in it should be awarded long term sentences.
(6) None with criminal record or involved in economic offences should be allowed to contest elections.
(7) In order to check the number of non-serious candidates those whose security at any election is forfeited should not be allowed to contest elections.
(8) The possibility of state funding of elections should be explored.
If these and similar other suggestions are implemented, election processes in India to a large extent can be reformed.