Indian democracy is the largest in the world. People’s representatives are elected every five years. The political party securing maximum no. of seats forms government. Thus the ruling party enjoys majority in the house of representatives and the legislature functions smoothly. But this is an ideal situation hardly to be found these days. The present era in Indian democracy is dominated by coalition politics. Hardly on any occasion any single party commands majority. A combination of certain parties cobble majority and try to run govt.on the Common Minimum Program.
More often than not the coalition partners develop new differences.A few of the honorable members of legislature start rebellion against the govt. for reasons best known to them only. Efforts to patch up with the disgruntled members start vigorously. On most occasions they are ‘accommodated’ by offering positions of prestige. However on a few occasions this issue defies to get solved, probably due to imbalance in demand and supply position with regard to plum posts. Such situations create Constitutional Crisis, putting the majority status of the ruling combine in jeopardy. Often such crisis end in re -election, with a fair chance of the same process getting repeated! This is a mockery of democracy .What’s the way out? The solution lies in overhauling of electoral process and completely new structure of Governance needs to be put in place. The following points can illustrate the proposed design.
- a) A minimum educational qualification, preferably graduation to be made compulsory .
- b) No person with any criminal history to be made eligible.
- c) Candidates to clear a public exam designed to test their knowledge of Indian history and culture, Indian economy, Indian constitution and general awareness of national and international phenomena followed by a personality test to assess their communication skill, etiquette etc. Scores awarded in such exam to remain valid for a certain period, on the line of other national eligibility tests.
d)A performance index can be calculated for individual candidates based on their deliverance of public service constituting ability to spend public money, presence during legislative sessions, no. of questions asked and so on.
- e) Election of a candidate by simply counting the votes cast in his favour has lost its validity as no candidate secures more than fifty percent of votes of the eligible voters of his constituency. Taking the polling percentage and further percentage of votes secured by a winning candidate, it amounts to ‘ rejection’ of the candidate by its voters by either not voting for him or by not exercising his voting right.So,simple counting of votes is a farce. Illiteracy among majority of voters further worsens the situation.Vote cast by an educated voter can’t be compared to that ‘obtained ‘ from illiterate and gullible voters. Different weightage have to be attached to their votes. In this manner ‘weighted ‘ votes can be computed. The system of differential votes is already in practice in the election of the President of India. To simplify and also to ensure maximum polling of votes, online voting system has to be introduced with phased withdrawal of offline system. A huge cut in electoral expenses can be achieved by resorting to online mode for voting..
- f) Instead of simple counting of votes, ‘ pollings scores ‘ may be computed for candidates by deploying a formula involving variables like weighted vote, percentage of polling, performance index and any other measuring yards to be finalized by the experts in the field.
g )A merit wise panel of candidates may be drawn to finally select them for different levels of governance like Parliament, State legislatures, Ditrict boards, Panchayats etc based on their position in the merit list and their choices expressed. A single electoral process for the entire nation can be held in this fashion.
- h) In view of the rising trend of coalition government, partly as a fallout of innumerable and indistinct political groups , a constitutional amendment may be brought in to recognize this system of government formation. The enshrined clause of calling upon the leader of the majority- securing political party has been losing its relevance.
- i) The cabinet can be formed by drawing members from different groups in proportion of their representation in the House. This method will take care of highest share in governance of the party securing maximum no. of seats. Such type of executive will not be an entirely new entity, as the different House committees do function with similar setup. This system will also do away with typical ‘Opposition ‘ benches primarily engaged in opposing any move for the sake of opposition. Here a constructive opposition will automatically function as being a part of decision making. The other members have ample scope for doing service to the nation by participating in discussions on matters of concern. There will be nothing new in this system as even now legislatures from the ruling combine do raise matters and even ask questions from the Executive.
- j) A midterm appraisal of performance of the people’s representatives can be conducted and on this basis poor performers can be recalled, to be substituted by next ones on the panel.
Such drastic and courageous steps can surely bring about positive changes in our democratic system.
By Birendra Lal