NSoJ Election SpecialA symposium on “Electoral Reforms and Constitutional Ideals” at the St Joseph’s College on Saturday organised by Forum for Democracy and Communal Amity Karnataka saw a large number of the audience being enlightened with the subject. “India is one of the largest democracies; whenever I hear this I say to myself this is the biggest understatement. We have more voters than 90 countries rolled together, it is the largest” said S.Y.Qureshi, the former Chief Election Commissioner.
He said that Election Commission has set its standard so high that good election is no longer news. Post-election violation is a reality, but here in India, we witness the smooth transition of power. As per article 329, the Supreme Court itself isn’t allowed to interfere in the election process. As a result of this, not one election has been delayed in the last 66 years. It is a testimony of their wisdom, and it is because of Supreme Court only that we are able to conduct free and fair elections, added Qureshi. He further stressed the importance of educating the voters. The concerns they are facing is money power, urban apathy and paid news. In last 11 elections, 1800 cases were booked for fake news. The present government has set up an IT cell where the youngsters are managing/mismanaging the media and social media to safeguard the interest of government against the onslaughts of oppositions. Professor Ravi Kumar, former Advocate-General of Karnataka said an ideal constitution is one where secularism is its basic feature. He recalled what Dr. Ambedkar had said while winding up the formalities of the framing of the constitution. “Every vote has one value.”
Professor Trilochan Sastry informed the audience that according to a survey taken by his team within the state of Karnataka with 13000 participants, they found that the top basic requirements of common man are: clean drinking water, jobs, better transport system, school and health care. He said surprisingly none of this is reflected in the election campaign of any political party. Talking about the misuse of money power, he raged that maximum expenditure amount is 28 lacs and when a party comes to power to after spending x times that amount, it goes without saying what will their prime focus be after coming to power. He even informed the students that they can know the criminal and financial background of the candidates, MPs, and MLAs contesting in elections by sending a message on 56077 typing My Neta pin code. Jyothi Rai, Director of Rural Education for Development Society said three things matter in a democracy: people, power and governance. Do we have good governance? She kept the question open to all. She was also persistent in changing proportionate representation (PR) in elections.
When asked about tampering of EVM’s, Qureshi said that BJP was accused of winning in Uttar Pradesh because of EVM and last week when they lost badly nobody said anything. In the last election in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, there was a machine and a printer in every booth. The only problem is the number of technical checking should increase and not like one or two booths out of 200 booths, a fixed percentage should be decided. The Honourable Justice M N Venkatachaliah nailed it when he said, “What democracy is to society is what oxygen to an individual. Unfortunately, we have taken it for granted.”