Few key reforms are needed in the Representation of Peoples Act to make electoral system of India robust and fair. Discuss in the context of contemporary issues.
The electoral system in India traces power from the Constitution which established the election commission as the main authority responsible for elections.
In contemporary times, electoral system faces certain key issues:
- Use of money and muscle power.
- Rising criminalisation of politics.
- Decline in multi-party democracy.
- Corruption in election funding.
- Based on parochial issues, such as caste, religion loyalties.
To check on these issues, RPA act 1951 has certain provisions like:
- Disqualification of MP/MLA.
- Provision of model code of conduct.
- Free and fair elections without booth capturing etc.
Certain amendments are required to address the rising issues:
- Presently convicted politicians are banned but undertrials are allowed to contest elections. This should have a limit of time, issues (section 8A of RPA).
- Capping of maximum expenditure in all sectors, by political parties. E.g. Presently transportation cost is not capped.
- State funding of elections to provide level playing field to all players.
- Amendment in model code of conduct to include parochial tendencies is disqualification.
- Describe limit and clear-cut demarcation of role of state officials – curb misuse by the ruling party.
- Making a forged declaration about assets and liabilities as disqualification.
To make elections fairer, following measures can be undertaken:
- Independent ECI – with its own staff and budget.
- More digitalised elections, maintaining of electoral rolls.
- Clear cut model code of conduct.
Free and fair elections are bedrock of democracy; therefore the government must take steps to reform elections.