Thorough-going transformation in the political process required for a people’s mandate

President's Blog

Election results from the five states which recently went for assembly polls have been overwhelmingly in favour of BJP. The party has been able to form governments in 4 of the 5 states. But there have been widespread allegations that the results have been manipulated through EVMs.

The Congress, BSP, SP and AAP have complained to the Election Commission (EC) that EVMs were tampered. In response the EC is holding high level consultations to “put in place a proper strategy to reinforce the credibility of EVMs”.

Every election has exposed the fact that the winners in the elections are decided by a handful of big monopoly and business houses. Through the use of money, muscle and media power they decide which party should get the upper hand in elections. They systematically discredit any other party that can become a serious contender by levelling charges of corruption and misrule against them and sending the CBI after them if required. Through their domination over symbols, they keep out any serious contenders who represent the interests of the people. A case is thus built for the party of their choice even before elections are conducted. The final manipulation is done on election day. With the introduction of EVMs this manipulation has become easy. The complaints by major parties reinforces the fact that election results are manipulated in favour of the winners.

In order to make the people accept the election “verdict”, and throw a fog over election malpractices, the monopoly-owned media provide analysis and justification as to why a certain party could emerge as the winner. They analyse “shifts” in voting patterns among people belonging to a particular caste or religion. They highlight the “good governance” aspects of parties which emerged winners and the “anti-incumbency” aspect for the losers.

But they hide the fact that these elections were held at a time when people were seething with anger against wave after wave of attacks on their rights and livelihood. Vast section of people were disgruntled with problems faced during the demonetization drive, attack on labour rights, bankruptcy of peasantry, attacks on students across universities, growing insecurity among women, loss of jobs due to liberalization and continuing stagnation in many economic sectors.

After the elections, Prime Minister Modi projected a grand vision of a “new India” by 2022. The Congress promised a new deal for the people of Punjab. But these words of bravado are no different from what BJP and Congress have been promising the people, election after election.

In the present political process, parties are accountable to their funders and not to the people. They foist a list of candidates on the people. Elected representatives are not answerable to the people but to their parties which gave them the tickets. When there is an indecisive outcome, then parties indulge in despicable horse trading. Elected representatives are bought with the promise of suitcases of money and ministerial posts. This is what is being witnessed now in Goa, Uttarakhand and Manipur.

Election Watch and ADR have analysed that 36% of newly elected MLAs in UP had criminal records and 26% had serious criminal cases against them! The Election Commission, the body which is supposed to ensure the integrity of elections, is not able to answer why this has happened. The Supreme Court, which issued a rather pompous warning that those appealing to voters on the basis of religion and caste will be punished, remained a spectator when leaders of political parties raked up the Ayodhya issue and also openly gave calls to vote for them on the basis of caste.

The entire political system and process reeks of corruption, nepotism and hegemony. From deciding on who should be given the ticket to contest to government formation and setting up the cabinet, people are not consulted.

In the present system, parties act as gatekeepers to power and keep the people thoroughly marginalized from playing any active role in selecting their representatives and forming a government of their choice. When placed in power they do the bidding of the monopolies and business houses which favoured them. Thus elections are not an exercise where people express their views on who should rule them. They are a market place where political parties sell themselves to the highest bidder.

We need to replace the current political process with a people-centred political process. In such a new arrangement, people should have the right to select and elect candidates and recall them if they fail to perform their duty. They should have the right to initiate legislation to protect their rights and interests. The state should fund the electoral process and any other funding should be disallowed. All candidates will have equal access to a symbol of their choice and media time. Political parties will play the role of an enabler to politicize the people so that they can take power in their own hands.

In spite of a mind numbing propaganda to pass of the existing political system and process as genuinely democratic, several parties and activists have challenged the status quo. They have dared with considerable success to present the case for an alternative system and process. Considerable initiatives have been started to politicize the people so that they actively work for a people-centred political process. Lok Raj Sangathan has actively worked for a thoroughgoing renewal of the political system and process and will continue to do so in the future.

Posted In: Political Process   

Share Everywhere