Three changes we need to protect people's choice

Three changes we need to protect people's choice

Political defections are not new. They have been there for decades. At one time, I remember a whole cabinet changed their colours overnight. The anti-defection law came in pretty late in our democracy after blatant defections happened. The politicians have found loopholes in it and exploited it to the hilt. No party is an exception to it. No one comes out of it smelling roses. We need a few changes in the way we are represented. 

Mostly we elect a person on the basis of the party they represent. Most people don’t know the name of the person they have cast their votes for but know the party for which they voted. Very rarely do we elect a person irrespective of the party they belong to. So we can assume that if a person has been elected on a party ticket, the people have voted for a party. Here is how we can protect democracy.

Change 1
Once a person is elected by the people, he/she cannot resign. If they resign, they cannot contest any other election to any other house for a period of six years. (Elections cost money, time, energy. They should not be a tool in the hands of an individual.) The person who resigns also has to bear the cost of the election expenditure for that seat. This change will ensure that an elected representative does not quit on whims and fancies. Being barred from contesting for any other house is a huge disincentive.

Change 2
Once a person is elected on a party ticket, if that person quits, then the party can nominate another person. That seat should be held by the party until the house is dissolved. The individual becomes inconsequential. In case the person dies too, the party can nominate another person. Only if an independent candidate quits/resigns then a by-election should be held. 

Change 3
Democracy is the antithesis of rule by kings and queens. It means everyone gets a chance to be a ruler. By not defining the number of terms a person can be a member of the house, in many instances, democracy has been subverted with the same person getting elected for the 8-9th time. Contesting against a person who is well-entrenched is not creating a level playing field. Hence for a genuine flavour of democracy and for churning the people who can hold power, every person should be restricted to just two terms of a house. If a person has been an MLA for two terms, then he can only contest to be an MP but not an MLA again and vice versa. This will ensure that power does not stay with the same individual or a group for long and put an effective end to control for power by a few individuals or groups for decades together..

Wednesday, July 31, 2019 By Sreedhar Mandyam

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