Reform Electoral System

The Election Commission has done well to cancel registration of 255 bogus political parties.

According to reports, some 1500 of the 1900 or so registered political parties of India have not contested any election in a decade. These sham parties are floated for ulterior motives by unscrupulous self styled leaders. Such parties have fancy names, exist only on paper and should be derecognized. Floating a political party and getting it registered appears to be the easiest thing in our country.

Multiplicity of political parties is the bane our country. As of date, there are seven recognized parties, 48 recognized regional parties and 24 unrecognized regional parties. All these parties are entitled to put up candidates for any electoral post. In addition, an individual also can contest any election as an independent candidate. All one has to do is to fulfill a few ridiculously simple conditions and put up a pitifully small amount as security deposit. Consequently every constituency witnesses multi-corner contests burdening infrastructure no end and increasing the cost of holding elections. It is imperative to restrict, not only the number of contesting candidates, the number of political parties as well. This can be done by making and implementing stringent rules.

In India, a registered party is recognized as a ‘National Party’ if it fulfills any one of the following three conditions:

  1. The party wins 2% of seats in the Lok Sabha from at least 3 different States.
  2. At a General Election to Lok Sabha or Legislative Assembly, the party polls 6% of votes in four States and in addition it wins 4 Lok Sabha seats.
  3. A party gets recognition as State Party in four or more States.

While a registered party has to fulfill any of the following conditions for recognition as a State Party:

  1. It should win minimum three percent of the total number of seats or a minimum of three seats in the Legislative Assembly
  2. It should win at least one seat in the Lok Sabha for every 25 seats or any fraction thereof allotted to that State
  3.  A political party should secure at least six percent of the total valid votes polled during general election to a Lok Sabha or State Legislative Assembly and should, in addition, win at least one Lok Sabha, and two Legislative Assembly seats in that election.
  4.  Even if a Party fails to win any seat in a State in a general election to the Lok Sabha or Legislative Assembly of the State, the party will still be eligible for recognition as State Party if it secures 8% or more of the total valid votes polled in the State.

These conditions are not stringent enough and are easy to meet. This is why we have a plethora of recognized national and regional parties. Democracy, already burdened under their combined weight, is gasping for breath.

To be recognized as a national party, in addition to the conditions listed above, a party should have a sizeable presence in at least 50% of the states and union territories. If the rules were so amended, only the Congress and the BJP will qualify as national parties.

As the term suggests, the area of influence of a regional party is confined to a few pockets, large or small. Such parties have no relevance at national level and should not be allowed to contest elections to Lok Sabha. They should seek election to state assemblies only.

Similarly, unattached individuals – independents – have no relevance at state or national level. If an individual must seek election to Vidhan Sabha or Lok Sabha, he should

  1. have his name proposed by at least 100 persons instead of 10, as at present
  2. pay security deposit of Rs.100000/- for Vidhan Sabha and Rs.500000/- for Lok Sabha instead of Rs.5000/- and Rs.10000/- respectively, as at present
  3. be educated and passed at least 12th standard
  4. not be facing a criminal charge in any court of law.

This will deter frivolous contestants, thereby restricting multi-corner contest.

If only national parties contest election to Lok Sabha, the chances of a hung house will be eliminated. Indian politics, which has stooped to the lowest level, will be cleansed and recover.

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