Elections 2014 were an unprecedented mobilization of Indians and an awesome sign of the world’s biggest democracy in action with over 755 million eligible voters and 66.4% of them, i.e., 499 million voting in over 9 phases in 543 constituencies spread across 28 states & 5 Union Territories around the country.
While the Election Commission (EC) will get the usual token celebratory kudos, it is necessary that we review its functioning and performance during these elections which include the following:
1. The EC needs to be tasked with conducting elections in shorter periods, unlike these very long 9 phases this time around. The nine phases are expensive and too time consuming! Elections in a modern democracy must be faster and more efficient, and efforts must be made to wrap up elections in 2-3 weeks! No country or Economy can afford to be in limbo for such a long duration as in these elections.
2. EC must respond to the serious issue of missing voters name in Mumbai and many other cities. This has raised serious questions about EC’s performance in creating and managing the accuracy of the electoral rolls – integrity of which is directly related to and affects our democracy. EC must answer the question on why they have done a less than stellar job on the crucial issue of Electoral rolls.
3. The EC has a moral and administrative responsibility to ensure the well-being and safety of the personnel involved in these Elections. Many police and Para-military personnel have had to serve in pathetic conditions during their Election ‘duty’! The EC must look into this.
4. The Election Commission was seen as Partisan and one-sided in many cases during these elections – a perception perhaps, but a perception created because of asymmetric and inconsistent application of the Model Code of Conduct against various candidates! Perception of Partisanship in the EC is dangerous for the credibility of a constitutional body.
5. The large amounts of cash seized during these elections reinforces the need for significant Electoral reforms, and I hope that the new Government and Parliament initiates a debate on Electoral Reforms and Election Commission reforms – much needed to protect the future of our democracy!
Irrespective of who wins on 16th May, India has emerged as the clear winner in these elections. Now is the time for Indians to work together to build a better India and a better future for all Indians, irrespective of religion, region and caste.