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CEC favours fixed term for legislatures

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All for reforms: N. Gopalaswami, Chief Election Commissioner, arriving at the SVP National Police Academy to deliver the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Memorial lecture in Hyderabad on Monday. -
All for reforms: N. Gopalaswami, Chief Election Commissioner, arriving at the SVP National Police Academy to deliver the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Memorial lecture in Hyderabad on Monday. -

We are tired of conducting election after election, says N. Gopalaswami

HYDERABAD: Chief Election Commissioner N. Gopalaswami has favoured prohibiting civil servants from joining political parties for at least five years after resignation or retirement from service.

“This suggestion could be implemented from the top -- the CEC and the Election Commissioners,” he said, while delivering the 23rd Sardar Vallabhai Patel memorial lecture on ‘Election Management-New Paradigm’ at the SVP National Police Academy here on Monday.

Mr. Gopalaswami also advocated a fixed term for legislatures saying “we are tired of conducting election after election”. The other reforms he suggested was to prescribe a minimum of 50 per cent plus one vote for the winning candidate, ceiling on party expenditure and single mandatory ID card.

Referring to EC’s proposal made in 1998 to bar persons facing charges of committing heinous crimes from contesting elections, he regretted that this had not passed muster wih parliamentarians. There were 18.18 per cent MPs with criminal cases in Lok Sabha, 49 per cent MLAs in Bihar, 38.30 per cent MLAs (Uttar Pradesh), 32.91 per cent (Tamil Nadu), 30.86 per cent (Jharkhand) and 15.31 per cent MLAs( West Bengal), among other States.

Giving an overview of the functioning of the Election Commission and the essentials for a credible election, he said while we could be proud, among others, of universal adult franchise and effecting political change through ballots and not bullets, “there are many things of which we cannot be proud of -- money, muscle power, manipulation, stuffing electoral rolls, bogus voting, booth capturing, pre-poll and poll day violence, intimidation…”

We cannot be proud of abusing authority, using Government servants, especially the police, criminals in fray, exceeding expenditure limit mostly observed in breach, bribing with freebies, liquor. So you start wondering at some point of time whether it is democracy or demo(no)cracy?”

Missing voters

Explaining the measures taken to tackle bogus voting due to migration and resultant absentees, he mentioned that in the Uttar Pradesh elections in 2007, it was found that the absentee electors were 85 lakh (7.59 per cent of the electorate). In a first of its initiative, list of missing voters was prepared polling station wise. Referring to high intra-city and inter-city migration, he said that a New Metropolitan Electoral Roll Management was in the offing.

Expressing concern over “innumerable instances of misuse of Government servants” and the transfer of officials just before elections, he urged the IPS probationers to maintain their integrity of thought and action.


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