Tag: election commission of india

Presidential candidates

On 12/6/2012 Election Commission announced the dates for presidential election. Strange are the ways of Election Commission. They announce elections for Legislative Assemblies six months before the expiry of the term and club various state elections together though announcement before 40 days is enough and clubbing elections together is not necessary and right. In case of presidential election the law provides for announcement 60 days before the expiry of the term and Election Commission announced the dates 43 days before the expiry of the term. Soon there will be vacancy of vice president but Election Commission has not clubbed together elections of president and vice president. S. Y. Qureshi was CEC when 60 days were left i.e., on 25/5/2012. He should have announced the election but did not do so and retired on 10/6/2012. Perhaps he was waiting for Congress to announce its candidate. On 11/6/2012 V. S. Sampath became CEC and next day at 5.30 p.m. he announced the election.

Events moved fast soon afterwards. Mamata Banerjee came to Delhi and met Sonia Gandhi. TV channels speculated that Mamata will propose the names of Gopal Gandhi, Abdul Kalam and Meira Kumar to Sonia. After the meeting she said Sonia Gandhi’s first choice for president is Pranab Mukherjee, second choice is Hamid Ansari. Then she went to meet Mulayam Singh Yadav. Mulayam had said he did not want a bureaucrat as a president. It was presumed that both will agree to Pranab Mukherjee.

The press conference that followed shocked and surprised people. Mamata and Mulayam did not agree to Sonia’s candidates. They wanted Abdul Kalam, Manmohan Singh and Somnath Chatterjee. Soon conspiracy theories floated. Jayanto Ghosal of Anand Bazar Patrika group said it was planned by Sonia. She did not want Pranab as president but did not want to say no. She used Mamata and Mulayam to do that.

Mamata was not in favour of Pranab. When people spoke of Pranab as son of Bengal she said he was the son of the world.

There was speculation over why the three names were proposed. Somnath Chatterjee’s name was proposed because he was a Bengali. While Mamata did not want Pranab she was not opposed to a Bengali becoming president and Somnath’s name was a balancing act. Some said real name is Manmohan Singh, other two are dummies. Sonia wants Manmohan to become president so that she can have a new prime minister.

On 14/6/2012 Congress spokesperson Janardan Dwivedi said “We cannot afford to spare Dr. Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister. The other two names are not acceptable. During UPA II, we have already said he will remain Prime Minister till 2014. The Congress does not take such a step in between.”

In the evening Mamata met Mulayam. She announced Abdul Kalam is “our candidate”. Mulayam was not with her. She said she will not take part in UPA meeting on 15/6/2012. There were reports that Abdul Kalam was Mamata’s candidate, SP had not taken a decision.

Subramanian Swamy claimed he and Jaswant Singh had worked for Abdul Kalam’s candidature. They had got support for him from BJP and SP. Jaswant Singh had met Mulayam and the impression was that he wanted Mulayam’s support to become vice president. There was talk of DMK supporting Kalam because he is a Tamilian but that did not happen.

On 15/6/2012 UPA met at 4 p.m. at 7 Race Course Road. All parties agreed on Pranab Mukherjee as candidate. Sonia Gandhi announced his candidature and appealed to all parties to support him. Soon SP announced support to Pranab. Mulayam did two somersaults within 48 hours. First he ditched Congress. Then he supported Congress. He said in politics decisions change as per situation. The three names were suggestions.

NDA and Left Front have to decide about the candidates. If BJP decides to support Pranab it is an embarrassment to Sushma Swaraj. Gurudas Dasgupta had said CPI will not support Congress candidate.

Purno Albert Sangma had announced his candidature in the middle of May, backed by AIADMK and BJD. Sangma presented himself as a tribal candidate. There had been Muslim, Sikh, Dalit and woman presidents and it was time for a tribal president. His supporters added that he is a Christian and from North East. In 1992 George Gilbert Swell was a candidate. He was a tribal, a Christian and from North East. Like Sangma he was from Meghalaya. That time Sangma did not support him. NCP does not want Sangma to contest and may expel him if he does.

Abdul Kalam had said he would contest if he was sure of winning. He wanted unanimity or consensus or at least 60% of votes. JD(U) was not in favour of him. It is unlikely he will contest. It is wrong for Congress to appeal to Abdul Kalam not to contest. Kalam can also ask Pranab not to contest.

Mamata is isolated. She did not get her package for Bengal. UPA rejected her nominees. Pranab is candidate. She said the game is not over yet. Today is the beginning. Wait for tomorrow.

Pranab’s candidature saw many ups and downs during the last two months. Some said he was too valuable for Congress to lose. The counter to that if he is so valuable he should be prime minister. During CWC meeting he moved resolution authorizing Congress president to decide about president and vice president and some thought it was over for him. Suddenly some remembered Congress tradition was to promote its vice presidents as presidents. They forgot Hamid Ansari was a Left Front nominee. When Mamata and Mulayam vetoed him name it appeared it was all over for him. But he had supporters in many parties and won the nomination.

There is time till 30/6/2012 for nominations. More candidates can emerge.

Political Parties in India

Most of the political parties in India are family or personal properties. Congress is the property of Nehru-Gandhi family, National Conference of Abdullah family, AIADMK of Jayalalitha, BSP of Mayawati, TMC of Mamata Banerjee, DMK of Karunanidhi, JD (S) of Deve Gowda and so on. BJP and Left Front parties are exceptions.
Constituencies have also handed over to family members. When an MP or MLA dies a member of his /her family is the inheritor.
A person who is unhappy in a party has to quit the party. He may join some other party or form his own party. Many parties have come into existence that way. Most of them disappear after sometime. Rarely someone topples the leader of the party and assumes control. Chandrababu Naidu toppled NTR and took control of TDP though technically it was split with NTR heading a faction.
At one time Election Commission of India insisted that every party should have internal elections as per its constitution. Any party that did not have internal elections as per its constitution was required to hold elections once every five years. Otherwise Election Commission could derecognise the party. At that time all parties complied. After that not much has been heard of party elections.
When YSR Reddy died there was a clamour for making his son Jaganmohan Reddy chief minister of Andhra Pradesh. Congress High Command resisted the pressure. It is said that Jaganmohan Reddy and his followers were disappointed and that led to opposition to the formation of Telangana to weaken K. Rosaiah.
Democracy has not been a hallmark of India’s political leaders. When in the election for the President of Congress Pattabhi Sitamaraiah lost and Subhash Chandra Bose won Mohandas Gandhi said Pattabhi Sitamaraiah’s defeat is my defeat. Subhash Chandra Bose had to resign after some months.
MLAs are supposed to elect the leader of the legislative party. Many times they pass resolutions authorising the party high command to appoint the leader. Leaders who have support of most MLAs are forced to resign or not to stake claim and someone else becomes chief minister. Many times someone who is not an MLA becomes chief minister. Sometimes he is unable to become MLA within six months and there is vacancy again.
Most of the parties are regional even though some of them have marginal presence outside their states. National Conference is of J&K, INLD of Haryana, BSP of UP, SP of UP, RJD of Bihar, TMC of West Bengal, AIADMK of Tamil Nadu etc.
Unless parties have internal democracy they can not grow. Some leaders may be charismatic and get votes and lead the party to victory sometimes but when he fails the party crumbles. In India there is no possibility of any party having internal democracy in the near future. Elections to Lok Sabha, Legislative Assembly and local bodies are the occasions for the people of India to express their choice and that decides the survival of parties.
Link to e-book: King – a novel: http://go4quiz.com/vincent/king

Elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh

On 10/10/2007 Election Commission announced the schedules for elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh. In both states elections are in two phases.
In Gujarat, first phase is for 87 constituencies with notification on 15/11/2007, nominations on 23/11/2007, withdrawals on 26/11/2007 and voting on 11/12/2007 and second phase is for 95 constituencies with notification on 21/11/2007, nominations on 28/11/2007, withdrawals on 1/12/2007 and voting on 16/12/2007. Counting of votes is on 23/12/2007.
In Himachal Pradesh, first phase is for 3 constituencies with notification on 20/10/2007, nominations on 27/10/2007, withdrawals on 31/10/2007 and voting on 14/11/2007 and second phase is for 65 constituencies with notification on 23/11/2007, nominations on 30/11/2007, withdrawals on 3/12/2007 and voting on 19/12/2007. Counting of votes is on 28/12/2007.
Model code of conduct comes into effect once elections are announced. In both states elections should have been held on a single day. Voting in all constituencies in Himachal Pradesh should have been on 14/11/2007 if the reason for having separate voting for three constituencies on that day is weather condition. Elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh should have been announced separately if polling could not be simultaneous. In Gujarat polling for all constituencies should have been on 11/12/2007.
Besides, there is a long gap between the last day of voting and the day of counting of votes. In Gujarat there are six days in between and in Himachal Pradesh eight days. The last day of voting in both states is 19/12/2007 which is in Himachal Pradesh. Counting of votes in Gujarat should have been on 20/12/2007. In Himachal Pradesh one day is enough to transport EVMs and counting of votes there should have been on 21/12/2007.
Election Commission is unnecessarily prolonging election schedules. For any state elections, including counting of votes and announcement of results, should be over within 36 days of the announcement. Elections should be announced only when the term of the Legislative Assembly is coming to an end so the new Legislative Assembly is constituted only when the old Legislative Assembly’s term expires. President’s Rule is an exception. It is not right that in a state, members of two Legislative Assemblies are paid salaries and perquisites at the same time.