Indian electoral system far better, says former CEC

`We will soon be outsourcing expertise in conducting elections'

Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: "Though there is scope for improvement, the Indian electoral system is far better than that of the advanced democracies," according to the former Chief Election Commissioner, T.S. Krishnamurthy.

Speaking on ``General Elections, India and United States — A Comparison," at a meeting organised by the Madras Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI), here on Monday, Mr. Krishnamurthy said the systems adopted in the two countries had their own advantages and disadvantages.

In India, the general elections were held on the basis of the Model Code and a uniform set of rules. As many as eight lakh electronic voting machines (EVMs) were used at seven lakh polling stations spread over different States. In the United States, different methods such as EVMs, conventional ballot papers and punch card system, were adopted, he pointed out.

While the powers and importance of the Election Commission (EC) in India in conducting the elections had been recognised without allowing judicial intervention after the commencement of the poll process, the only option before the parties and people in the U.S. was moving the courts on poll-related issues. But once election results were announced through counting of ballots or by judicial intervention, they were accepted gracefully in the U.S.

Another significant difference between the systems in the two countries was that electors and parties in the U.S. were highly disciplined ensuring peaceful conduct of elections without police intervention while many States in India favoured deployment of paramilitary forces to prevent poll violence.

However, popular will would have been reflected in a better way if proportional representation system were adopted there, he opined.

Apart from the three-member EC, India had a good system of Civil Service, barring a few States where bureaucrats had a tarnished image owing to their alleged political allegiance.

National debate

Against this backdrop, he stressed the need for a national debate on electoral reforms in the country. "However, there is no need to feel inferior. Many countries in the world are watching us with great admiration. Soon India will be outsourcing its expertise in the field of conducting elections to other nations," he said.

The meeting was presided by the MCCI president, Murali Venkatraman.

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