Debate on general elections on electonic & print media

Naresh Saxena

There have been any number of debates & discussions on the issues (or the absence of the same) pertaining to the on going election process. There has been lot of emphasis on coming out to vote etc. and rightly so. But what we are misssing and no body realising is the fact that how this will correct the messy situation we are deeply in.Presented in the following paragraphs is the attempted perspective of the present and just of the mind suggestions. You are requested to kindly go through it , and it is open for discussion. If somebody has connections with Main New Channels like NDTV, CNN-IBN,TimesNow,we can take up with them and involve spokespersons of major political parties. We have to do something, time is not on our side, if we miss it now, we are damned for another five years.

Enough is enough, the way the things are moving, it may take another 60 years to get out of the mess we are in. And the youth of India, especially the lower strata of society & from villages & small towns can’t wait. Media is doing its bit but that’s a small dose. What we actually need is a brutal surgery of the system.
The issues of small parties, regionalism, religion & casteism have added a big dimension to the issue of governance by the big national parties. The system has become so rotten that it’s impossible to think if any coalition of whether NDA or UPA (or third/fourth front – less said the better), can strive to initiate major changes. Result: we get to listen from all parties

i) “If you don’t like the candidate don’t elect” – After all even if a criminal gets elected they say, you have elected him, he’s your representative
ii) “Unless a person gets convicted by the court of law, he’s innocent” – Even if serious and several charges of murder/rape/abduction, etc. are existing against him in the courts.

We all know how easily these statements are made even by very respectable and honest political leaders, knowing very well that what they are saying is not fair. BUT, after all they are also part of the system. So the moot questions are – ‘Who will change the system?’, ‘Who will bring the law to change the system even if some of our leaders have the will to change?’, ‘Who will discuss & legislate when a good number of MPs do not know what the job of a Member of Parliament is?’. Even if one party tries to bring some good legislation, for e.g., Women’s Reservation Bill, etc, there are others to oppose it.
So what’s the remedy? Wait for another 60 years! And give small doses of i)Exercise your right to vote (still essence of duty is not instilled)
ii)Don’t elect a person with a dubious background
iii)Vote for likes of Meera Sanyal – But independents have very little chance to win and moreover no party will risk giving them the ticket.

Or else go for a major surgical operation to give this biggest democracy of the world, a meaningful democracy and not hypocrisy. We have already done a lot of things in the run up to the mockery of democracy: like, the Prime Minister of the country imposing emergency instead of stepping down after a High Court judgment holds the election invalid.. A Chief Minister of a state, installing his housewife, when he was faced with relinquishing the office of CM. Mockery of anti defection law, any number of permutation/ combinations of parties, in complete disregard to the ideologies or policies of the parties joining hands, tiny parties holding big parties or rather the whole alliance to ransom by demanding their pound of flesh for being the marginal player.
So again what is the remedy?! There can’t be one but many. What would be the right one only time would tell. But there is a pragmatic (it may sound a little unpractical) suggestion.
There are undoubtedly two old and national parties – Congress and BJP. Congress has yet to prove its secular credentials though it accuses BJP of being communal. BJP has yet to prove that it’s a party with a difference and accuses Congress of pseudo-secularism. BJP has ruled the country (being largest constituent of NDA) for 6 years. It has ostensibly not done anything against the Muslims rather Prime Minister Vajpayee has done extra-ordinary efforts to improve relations with Pakistan and was also instrumental in appointing Dr. Abdul Kalam to the highest office of the country.
All said and done, there are no basic differences among Congress and BJP policies if political rhetoric is excluded. To avoid the pain of the 60 year process (assuming that the process has started now), we have to think of some out of the box solutions to give ourselves a maturing democracy and save it from becoming a laughing stock. For the sake of country & its future generations, HERE is the suggestion:
i) Congress and BJP agree to burry the hatchet for the interlude – A brief period of 2 years for each. They should not comment on past events.
ii) Both the parties agree for the arrangement before May 16th, 2009
iii) The broad contours of this arrangement: (a) Congress and BJP will rule the country for 2 years each – the party winning more seats to start first or whatever they decide; (b) If Congress and BJP together are not able to add up to 273 seats, the next biggest party/ parties to be invited to support. But that party/parties have to support for the full term; (c) Both parties to have a separate tool set of advisors (selected from among the intellectuals, industrialists, sociologists, educationists, economists, etc.) to not only guide on policy matters but also to see to it that their recommendations are carried out by the government and also to make names of such persons public (d) Both parties agree to bring certain constitutional changes to CLEANSE the system like the technicalities in the guise of which they play foul. E.g.
*A candidate should contest from 1 seat only
*A sitting MLA cannot contest for MP’s position & vice-versa. One has to wait for higher aspirations and cannot be allowed to ‘eat the cake and have it to’
*A charge-sheeted person should not be allowed to contest for any legislative post
*A person with serious criminal charges should not be allowed to contest. *If it’s not made into law, at least the fact be brought in public domain along with the number of such persons the party has given tickets to
*To amend the Anti-Defection law to make it more meaningful. If a person leaves the party on the symbol of which he has been elected, he should not hold any office of profit for certain period. If he changes the party, he has to cleanse his mental system also.
*There should be labor and legal reforms also
*No political person should be appointed President/ Governor of state. Or at least that person should not be in active politics for a specified period
*It should be imperative for MPs/ MLAs to attend to at least 75% of the time; the House has been in session. Otherwise their benefits should be curtailed proportionately.
*The list can be extended to any length depending upon the inputs from both the major parties
*CBI should be made an independent investigative agency

iv) After 4 years, both the parties would form a joint cabinet with larger party’s candidate as the Prime Minister. During the 9 months period (the next general election process will take 2-3 months), no major policy decisions will be taken but emphasis will be on fine tuning the implementation of the policies already in place

The whole idea of suggesting this initiative is to cleanse the system at least once to give the next generation a solid and level playing field on which to build world’s biggest democracy which every Indian can be proud of.
The purpose is not to sideline the Regional Parties but to make them strong by aligning with the strong and bigger national parties. If Regional parties are really concerned for their voters, they have to first take care of their basic needs of food, shelter, education & health care, the infrastructure for which is in abject state.
It is hoped that our national leaders of all hue will forget their personal biases for the sake of twelve hundred million people. The coming generations will remember them as great statesmen who helped them emancipate from want and hunger and look for a qualitative difference in life of which they have almost lost hope.

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