The will of a nation as to who should form the next government is expressed through the process of elections. For most of the countries in the world, including India, democracy has been established not as a choice but because of struggle through which they had to earn it. India too fought for its independence along with the right to establish a democratic government. A democracy cannot exist without elections. Free and fair elections are important for any good government which professes to be based on people’s will. However, successful holding of a free and fair election calls for a set of conditions; and these conditions are set by the country’s electoral laws, and, if the rules are not observed diligently, then the entire objective of democracy stands defeated.
India is considered to be one of the largest democracies of the world. The general elections that are conducted in the country are carried out on a huge scale where millions of people participate to elect their representatives, a feature which is unique to India. People come out and vote irrespective of their caste, class, gender, race etc and is the blood on which Indian democracy thrives. The Election Commission of India is responsible for the conduct of elections in India as provided under the Constitution.
The elections in India are governed by specific electoral laws as the Constitution has placed “Elections to Parliament, to the Legislatures of States and to the offices of the President and Vice President; and the Election Commission”, within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Central government. The Parliament has enacted laws under Article 327 of the Constitution as Representation of People Act, 1950, Delimitation Act, 1962, Registration of Electoral Rules, 1960, Conduct of Election Rules, 1961, Parliament (Prevention of Disqualification) Act, 1959 etc.
As has been rightly said by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the din and noise of elections has kept the democracy going in India. However, the din and noise are not sufficient to give meaning to the principle of democracy. There are too many snags in the electoral system which are to be removed. Huge amounts of money is spent on every election, be it Lok Sabha or Assembly elections. No political party has been able to control corruption and has become rampant at almost all the levels. The development of the country is being affected as due to the criminalization of politics, the quality of the legislators has reduced considerably and the level of debate and discussions that take place on the floor of the House is disgusting at times.
However, when unfair means are used to win elections or criminal activities are carried out during elections, it is the people of the country who are cheated upon. The principle of democracy states that it is ‘for the people, by the people and of the people’. Thus, people are the signpost of a democratic country and they express their choice through elections. If the elections are not free and fair and in accordance with procedures, it is democracy that fails. Atal Bihari Vajpayee expressed his concern that elections are not reflecting the true will of the people as they are being tainted by money power, muscle power and overemphasis on communal politics.
Politicians have been promising for a long period of time of introducing reforms but have not implemented them at all. The democracy of the country is hanging by a thin thread and it is only through electoral reforms that it can be revived to its old glory.
Assistant Professor, Department of Law, Kalinga University
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