No system of election can ever be perfect. And in actual election process, there are bound to be many flaws and limitations. Any democratic society has to keep searching for mechanisms to make elections free and fair to the maximum. With the acceptance of adult suffrage, freedom to contest elections, and the establishment of an independent Election Commission, India has tried to make its election process free and fair. However, the experience of the last seventy years (approx) has given rise to many suggestions for reforming our election system.
The Election Commission, political parties, various independent groups, and many scholars have come up with proposals for electoral reform.
Some of these suggestions are –
- Our system of elections should be changed from the FPTP to some variant of the PR system. This would ensure that parties get seats, as far as possible, in proportion to the votes they get.
- There should be a special provision to ensure that at least one third women are elected to the parliament and assemblies.
- There should be stricter provisions to control the role of money in electoral politics. The elections expenses should be paid by the government out of a special fund.
- Candidates with any criminal case should be barred from contesting elections, even if their appeal is pending before a court.
- There should be complete ban on the use of caste and religious appeals in the campaign.
- There should be a law to regulate the functioning of political parties and to ensure that they function in a transparent and democratic manner.
These are but a few suggestions. There is no consensus about these suggestions. Even if there was a consensus, there are limits to what the laws and formal provisions can do.
Free and fair elections can be held only if the candidates, the parties and those involved in the election process agree to abide by the spirit of democratic competition.
Apart from legal reforms, there are two other ways of ensuring that elections reflect the expectations and democratic aspirations of the people. One is, of course, that people themselves have to be more vigilant, more actively involved in political activities. But there are limits to the extent to which ordinary people can engage in politics on a regular basis. Therefore, it is necessary that various political institutions and voluntary organisations are developed and are active in functioning as watchdog for ensuring free and fair elections.
Bibliography : NCERT – Indian Constitution At Work