People often complain that political competition is not good for the society as it tends to breed unhealthy attitude and corruption. Politicians try to win an election by hook or crook. But we should look at the positives also. There are many examples of a powerful politician getting defeated in an election. Many politicians lose elections in spite of putting all the money and muscle power at his disposal. Since politicians have a fear of losing the election so they have no other way but to work for people’s welfare. Chances of winning in an election also work as a motivational factor for a politician. Bay and large, elections are fair in India and political competition plays an important role in making it fair.
Electoral Constituency: For parliamentary elections, the country is divided into more than 543 electoral constituencies. A constituency is usually made on the basis of population of a particular geographical area. Similarly, assembly constituencies are made in different states for the elections to the state assemblies. Voters in a constituency elect their representative.
Reserved Constituency: The constitution makers were of the opinion that people from the oppressed sections of the society should be given some leverage so that they could enhance their political representation. They made the provision for reserved constituencies for members of the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. As on 1st September 2012, there are 84 seats reserved for the Scheduled Castes and 47 seats reserved for the Scheduled Tribes. Only the candidate from SC or ST can contest from these seats. But voters from all communities shall vote for the candidates in such constituencies. Now-a-days, reservation for OBCs (Other Backward Classes) is also given for elections to the local government bodies; like panchayats and municipalities. The percentage of reserved seats is same as the percentage of these communities in the population of India.
Voter’s List: A list of all eligible voters is prepared for each constituency a few months before the elections. Voter’s list is updated from time to time to include the new voters and delete those who may have left the area or may have died. Voter’s list is also called electoral roll.
Election Photo Identity Card: Once the voter’s list is finalized, all the voter’s are expected to come to get election photo identity card or voter ID card. The provision for voter ID card has been made to prevent surrogate voting and bogus voting. But it is not necessary to carry your voter ID card to the polling booth. You can also carry any other valid ID proof; like driving license, ration card or PAN card.
Nomination of Candidates: Once the election dates are announced, the candidates need to file their nomination. When a candidate is selected by a political party as a candidate, it is usually known as party ‘ticket’. While filing the nomination, the candidate has to provide certain details and some security deposit. Some of the details required from the candidate are as follows:
Election Campaign: The candidates and political party conduct election campaign to educate the voters about their future programmes and policies. Political parties hold rallies, road-shows, mohalla sabhas, etc. They also spend on hoardings, advertising, banners, posters and pamphlets. Political parties usually try to focus the voters’ attention on some big issues; like poverty alleviation, corruption, employment generation, provision for electricity, water, food, etc.
According to law, following activities are banned during election campaign:
Model Code of Conduct: One the election dates are announced the model code of conduct is enforced by the Election Commission. This code of conduct prohibits the following:
Polling and counting of votes: India is one of the few countries where electronic voting machines (EVMs) are used for voting. One needs to press the button against the electoral symbol of his choice to register a vote. EVMs provide many benefits compared to traditional ballot papers. EVMs are lightweight and much less number of EVMs is required to cover a constituency. Counting of votes is less time consuming and more accurate through EVMs. Now-a-days, even paper trail can be printed from an EVM. It is because of the use of EVMs that poll results are announced within a day of beginning of counting.
During the days of ballot papers, carrying the ballot boxes to and from the polling booth used to be a tedious task. Counting of votes used to take three to four days. Chances of malpractices were far too high.
The Election Commission is a constitutional body which is independent from the government. The Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) is appointed by the President of India. Once the election dates are announced, it is impossible to remove the CEC. Moreover, the whole civil administration comes under the Election Commission after the election dates are announced. These provisions ensure that the Election Commission remains and independent and impartial body. Hence, it can be said that elections in India are really democratic.
Acceptance of Election Outcomes: It is often blamed that too many malpractices take place in the elections in India. But this is nothing but a perception and reality can be quite different. The following facts indicate towards the democratic nature of elections in India.
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