Real empowerment a challenge, says Ansari

Special Correspondent

New Delhi: Vice-President Hamid Ansari on Monday said challenges still remained in the electoral system. The real empowerment and participative governance at the third tier of the government was still a work in progress. He expressed the hope that the electoral process at the local self-government level would benefit from coordination and sharing of experiences and resources with the EC.

He was addressing the diamond jubilee celebrations of the Election Commission of India.

Similarly, despite stringent efforts, unaccounted election expenses constitute the major expenditure of political parties and their candidates. These related to the distribution of freebies, liquor and cash during elections, the phenomenon of surrogate advertisements, and the extensive media-related malpractice of “paid news” and “coverage packages.”

“Each of these is a blot on the democratic process and on the objective of free and fair elections. Corrective action by the EC and political parties is imperative.”

On the enforcement by the EC of procedural inner party democracy, Mr. Ansari said the challenge for the parties now was to bring about substantive organisational democracy. It was said in the Constituent Assembly that democracy was only a top dressing on an Indian soil that was essentially undemocratic.

“The EC deserved appreciation and gratitude for making our soil more fertile for the seed of democracy,” he said.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed the hope that solutions, through “consensus”, could be found to issues such as the best and brightest people not being attracted to politics, professionals and middle class shying away from the electoral process, poor voter turnout and use of money power in elections — on which the EC had given its recommendations. Many of these issues had been in the purview of the Parliamentary standing committee. “Poor turnout in many constituencies undermines, to some extent, the legitimacy of the victor in a ‘first past the post’ system that we follow.”

Recommended for you