10 Questions and Answers on Electoral Politics

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10 Questions and Answers on Electoral Politics

1. Which of the following statements about the reasons for conducting elections are false?

(а) Elections enable people to judge the performance of the government

(b) People select the representative of their choice in an election

(c) Elections enable people to evaluate the performance of the judiciary

(d) People can indicate which policies they prefer

Ans. (a) Elections enable people to judge the performance of the government

(c) Elections enable the people to evaluate the performance of the judiciary

2. Which of these is not a good reason to say that Indian elections are democratic?

(a) India has the largest number of voters in the world

(b) India's Election Commission is very powerful

(c) In India, everyone above the age of 18 has a right to vote

(d) In India, the losing parties accept the electoral verdict Ans. (a) India has the largest number of voters in the world.

3. Match the following:

(a) It is necessary to keep the voters list up to date because

(i) there is a fair representation of all sections of our society

(b) Some constituencies are reserved for SCs and STs so that

(ii) everyone has equal opportunity to elect their representative

(c) Everyone has one and only one vote so that

(iii) all candidates must have a fair chance of competing in elections

(d) Party in power is not allowed to use government vehicles because

(iv) some people may have moved away from the area where they voted last

Ans.

(a) It is necessary to keep the voters list up to date because-(iv) some people may have moved away from the area where they voted last.

(b) Some constituencies are reserved for. SCs and STs so that-(i) there is a fair representation of all the sections of the society.

(c) Everyone has one and only one votes so that-(ii) everyone has equal opportunity to elect their representatives.

(d) Party in power is not allowed to use government vehicles because-(iii) all candidates must have a fair chance of competing in elections.

4. List all the different election related activities mentioned in the chapter and arrange them in a time sequence, beginning with the first activity and ending with the last. Some of these activities are given below:

Releasing election manifestos; counting of votes; making of voters' list; election campaign; declaration of election results; casting of votes; ordering of re-poll; announcing election schedule; filing nomination.

Ans. (1) Making of voters' list; (2) announcing election schedule; (3) filing nomination; (4) releasing election manifestos; (5) election campaign; (6) casting of votes; (7) ordering a re-poll; (8) counting of votes; (9) declaration of election results.

5. Surekha is an officer in-charge of ensuring free and fair elections in an assembly constituency in a state. Describe what she should focus on for each of the following stages of election:

(a) Election campaign, (b) Polling day, (c) Counting day

Ans. (a) Election campaign.

She should ensure that election campaign is fair and peaceful. Caste and religion are not used in the campaign. The ruling party does not make use of official machinery in the election campaign. Election posters are not put on walls of the buildings. Money or other things like wine and other articles (saris, sewing machines, food grains etc.) are not distributed in the election campaign.

She should see that no one threatens the voters. No party or candidate should use any place of worship for election propaganda. Once elections are announced, ministers shall not lay foundation stones of any projects, take any major policy decision or make any promises of providing public facilities. Government officers should not be transferred after elections have been announced.

(b) Polling day:

She should sees to it that once the voter goes inside the polling booth, the election official identifies him/her, put a mark on his/her finger and allow him/ her to cast his/her vote according to rules. No unauthorised person should be allowed to enter the polling booth or create disturbance. No canvassing should be allowed within the premises of the booth. There is no rigging or booth capturing by any candidate. Police must remain alert to check any such happening.

(c) Counting day:

She must ensure that counting of votes is done in a peaceful manner. No unauthorised person (except the counting agents of the candidates) is allowed to enter the counting centre. After the counting, results are declared by the authorised official. All arrangements should be made for maintenance of peace and security outside the counting centre.

6. The table below gives the proportion of different communities among the candidates who won elections to the US Congress. Compare these to the proportion of these communities in the population of the US. Based on this, would you suggest a system of reservations in the US Congress? If yes, why and for which communities? If no, why not?

Proportion of the community (in per cent) in the

House of representatives

Population of US

Blacks

8

13

Hispanics

5

13

Whites

86

70

Ans. I am of the opinion that seats should be reserved in the US Congress for Blacks and Hispanics as their representation in the House of Representations is much less than their population in the country. On the other hand, there should be no reservation for the Whites as they are already over represented in proportion to their population in the country.

7. Can we draw the following conclusions from the information given in this chapter? Give two facts to support your position for each of these.

(a) Election Commission of India does not have enough powers to conduct free and fair elections in the country.

(b) There is a high level of popular participation in the elections in our country.

(c) It is very easy* for the party in power to win an election.

(d) Many reforms are needed to make our elections completely free and fair.

Ans. (a) The Constitution of India provides for an Election Commission who have been given the responsibility to conduct free and fair elections in the country. It has been given enough powers to fulfill its responsibility.

(i) The Election Commission has complete control over all the functionaries connected with the conduct of elections.

(ii) All the candidates are bound to submit the report of their expenses to the Election Commission.

(iii) It enjoys the power to check the misuse of official machinery during election by the members of the ruling party.

(b) In our country, the voters' turn out has either remained stable or gone up. Besides the interest of voters in the election-related activities has been increasing over the years. Popular participation in the elections in our country has been constantly increasing. In 1996, elections it was 58%, in 1998, 62.2%, in 1999, elections 58.3% and in the elections held in 2004 it had gone upto 57%. One out of every seven voters is a member of a political party.

(c) It is not easy for the party in power to win an election. In fact, it is always the anti- incumbency factor working against it. Since, no party is able to fulfill all the promises made to the people during the last elections, a large number of voters turn against it and try to change the government. The defeat of NDA government at the Centre in 2004 elections and of Om Prakash Chautala in the last elections of Haryana Legislative Assembly is examples.

(d) Yes. We agree with the statement some of the needed reforms are as under:

(i) To minimise the role of money in elections, provision should be made for state funding of elections. (

(ii) Misuse of official machinery should be checked strictly.

(iii) Rigging of election by the muscle power and booth capturing should be strongly checked.

(iv) Candidates making use of caste or religion during elections should be debarred from contesting elections.

8. Chinappa was convicted for torturing his wife for dowry. Satbir was held guilty of practicing untouchability. The court did not allow either of them to contest elections. Does this decision go against the principles of democratic elections?

Ans. The decision of the Court to declare both Chinappa and Satbir from contesting election does not go against the principles of democratic election. Since both of them had committed offences, violated laws, the Court punished them and debarred them from contesting election. The law provides that a person who has been convicted by a court cannot fight election.

9. Here are some reports of electoral malpractices from different parts of the world. Is there anything that these countries can learn from India to improve their elections? What would you suggest in each case?

(a) During an election in Nigeria, the officer in-charge of counting votes deliberately increased the votes of one candidate and declared him elected. The court later found out that more than five lakh votes cast for one candidate were counted in favour of another.

(b) Just before elections in Fiji, a pamphlet was distributed warning voters that a vote for former Prime Minister, Mahendra Chaudhry will lead to bloodshed. This was a threat to voters of Indian origin.

(c) In the US, each state has its own method of voting, its own procedure of counting and its own authority for conducting elections. Authorities in the state of Florida took many controversial decisions that favoured Mr. Bush in the Presidential elections in 2000. But no one could change those decisions.

Ans. (а) If the malpractice has been proved in a court the election should be declared null and void and re-election should be held in that constituency. The officer in-charge of the counting should be given strict punishment for committing such irregularity. The system of counting should be such as the counting officer is not able to enjoy such discretion.

In India, this is not possible as counting agents of all the candidates are present in the counting centre and counting of votes takes places in their presence.

(b) To issue such a poster is definitely an electoral malpractice. The circulation of such a poster should be checked immediately. The source of the poster-a person, candidate or political party-should be found out and punished as it violates the principle of democratic elections. Such a candidate should be declared from contesting election.

In India, certain people raised the issue of Mrs. Sonia Gandhi being of foreign origin and hence not able to participate actively in the politics of the country and hold any high office. But they have been given a befitting reply as Sonia Gandhi's popularity and her place in the politics of the country has been constantly increasing.

(c) Since, each state in USA has it own method of voting, its own procedure of counting and its own authority for conducting elections; the decisions taken by the State of Florida must be according to the election laws passed by that State. No one could challenge those decisions as those must have been taken in accordance with the laws made by that state.

In India, since state are not authorised to make their own laws for election, such a situation cannot arise.

10. Here are some reports of malpractices in Indian elections. Identify what the problem in each case is. What should be done to correct the situation?

(a) Following the announcement of elections, the minister promised to provide financial aid to reopen the closed sugar mill.

(b) Opposition parties alleged that their statements and campaign was not given due attention in Doordarshan and All India Radio.

(c) An inquiry by the Election Commission showed that electoral rolls of a state contain name of 20 lakh fake voters.

(d) The hoodlums of a political party were moving with guns, physically preventing supporters of other political parties to meet the voters and attacking meetings of other parties.

Ans. (a) With the announcement of elections, the code of conduct comes into force. According to a model code of conduct, which has been agreed to by all the political parties? Once elections are announced the ministers shall not lay foundation stones of any project or take any major policy decision or make any promise of providing public facilities. Hence, the minister should be stopped from making such promises as it amounts to violation of model code of conduct.

(b) All the parties should be given adequate time to express their views on Doordarshan and All India Radio. This has already been done by the Election Commission and time is fixed for different political parties.

(c) The electoral rolls of that state should be fully revised and names of all the fake voters should be removed from the voter's list.

(d) This is also a malpractice adopted by certain candidate and even by political parties during the elections. Movement of people with guns and other arms should be strictly banned. The candidates must be provided with security by the state and steps should be taken to ensure that meeting of other parties are not disturbed or attacked.

Ramesh was not in class when this chapter was being taught. He came the next day and repeated what he had heard from his father. Can you tell Ramesh what is wrong with these statements?

(a) Women always vote the way men tell them to. So what is the point of giving them the right to vote?

(b) Party politics creates tension in society. Elections should be decided by consensus not by competition.

(c) Only graduates should be allowed to stand as candidates for elections.

Ans. (a) This is not true. These days, many women cast their votes independently and according to their own wishes. Moreover, depriving the women of the right to vote will be anti-democratic. That is why, women in almost all the countries have been given the right to vote.

(b) Although it is true that party politics creates tension in society, yet there is no alternative. In modern states, where is population is very large, it is not possible to have consensus on election. It is just impracticable.

(c) To prescribe educational qualifications (graduate level) would go against the spirit of Democracy. In India, it would mean depriving a majority of the country's citizens the right to contest elections. If being a graduate was made compulsory for candidates, about 90 per cent of the citizens will become ineligible to contest election.

Moreover, educational qualifications are not relevant to all kinds of jobs positions, for example, for a cricket, a hockey player to be able to be selected in a team, it is not necessary that he should be a graduate. He should be selected for the team if he plays cricket or hockey well.


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