India meanders through its two month long campaign to elect the 17th Lok Sabha in a seven phased process. The outcome of the no holds barred battle will be known on May 23.
India meanders through its two month long campaign to elect the 17th Lok Sabha in a seven phased process. The outcome of the no holds barred battle will be known on May 23 and the new Lower House of Parliament will be sworn in before June 3.
With the third phase of polling today the fate of over 300 Lok Sabha seats would be sealed in the electronic voting machine. The long drawn election is often sought to be justified on the need to make security and logistic arrangements across the length and breadth of the country.
The extended election campaign apart from voter fatigue also strains the finances of candidates and political parties fielding them. It also paves the way for unaccounted money coming in through unchartered path and dubious means.
Article 324 of the Constitution provides that the superintendence, direction and control of elections are with the Election Commission, which currently comprises the Chief Election Commissioner and two Election Commissioners. The commission is authorised to transfer or reprimand officials deployed to ensure smooth functioning of free and fair elections.
In effect, all the civil administration during the elections comes under the Election Commission of India. The retired bureaucrats of the government, in effect, become the guardians of the administrative setup, an authority that is otherwise not available to them in their active administrative lifetime.
By all accounts 1984 was the most traumatic period in post-independent India history. There was unrest in both the eastern and western border States of the country. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her bodyguards on October 31as she was stepping out from her residence.
Assassination of former Prime Minister unleashed violence on Sikh minority community, leaving several thousand dead across the country. Indira Gandhi’s son Rajiv with no administrative experience was sworn in as the Prime Minister.
Within two months of unprecedented events, India elected its 8th Lok Sabha. Elections to Punjab and Assam had to be delayed due to prevailing tense political atmosphere. The elections to 515 Lok Sabha seats were held on three days—December 24, 27 and 28, and a new government was in office on New Year Eve.
India may be witness to many challenges, but not as devastating as 1984. Can the political process not be smoother and shorter? May be it is time the Election Commission of India as the referee to ponder over it.
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