Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Vice President all for simultaneous polls

‘Of the 533 Lok Sabha members, 475 are crorepatis’

Hyderabad: Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu has called upon political parties to seriously consider the option of simultaneous elections right from panchayats to Parliament, across the country, to bring down the cost of holding elections by the Election Commission of India and also the expenditure by the political parties.

Apart from legitimate election expenditure, he said rise of illegitimate expenditure on vote buying is a great concern as it is making only the rich to be more qualified to become an MP, MLA -- than a well-qualified public spirited person.

“Of 533 candidates elected to the 17th Lok Sabha, 475 accounting for 88% are ‘crorepatis’. This paradox of poor India with rich Parliamentarians is raising concerns about growing role of money power in politics,” he said.

The Vice President was the chief guest at the inaugural session of the first annual national conference on ‘Indian Democracy at Work’ with the theme ‘Money power in politics’ organised by the Foundation for Democratic Reforms, ISB-Bharat Institute of Public Policy and University of Hyderabad at ISB here on Thursday.

Complimenting Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan, general secretary, FDR, for his sustained efforts for generating public awareness about clean politics and its merits, the Vice President called for fixing governance system and effective regulation of political finance along with bold reforms to break the vicious cycle of corruption and erosion of quality of democratic polity.

Any reform would be opposed in the beginning but it would benefit every citizen, political parties and government in the end, he said.

To check this trend, political parties must be made accountable for implementing their promises and there must be a ceiling on populist announcements based on the budgetary resources of a local body, State and the Centre on the lines of FRBM Act, Mr. Venkaiah Naidu said.

He said Election Commission alone can not control money power in elections and politics and it is the responsibility of political parties, government and the voters.

A voter would forfeit the right to question the government when he compromises on morals and accepts gift or cash for his vote. It is crucial to plug the loopholes in the anti-defection law to make democracy accountable and transparent, he said.

He appealed to the citizens to vote in elections based on character, conduct, calibre and capability of the candidates and not based on cash, caste, community and criminal prowess. That would be the ultimate solution to check money power in politics, he said.

Earlier Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan said Indian democracy ensured peaceful transfer of power through elections and people cherish their freedom but shortcomings should be addressed to make democracy deliver better, he said. About Rs.1 lakh crore was spent on elections, most of it unaccounted, during the cycle of five years, undermining Indian democracy.

Prof. P. Appa Rao, Vice-Chancellor, University of Hyderabad, said university campuses should become the laboratory for reforms.

Mr. Rajendra Srivastava, Dean, Indian School of Business, proposed a vote of thanks.

Courtesy: The Hindu

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