Bonded to the ballot
- Trouble mounts for Sreesanth as Mumbai cops gather more evidence
- SIT to seek Supreme Court guidance on Maya Kodnani death penalty issue
- Tamil Nadu police bans Yasin Malik-linked pro-Eelam public meeting
- Kings XI Punjab end IPL 2013 campaign with a win
- Narendra Modi: India losing sheen as agricultural nation
Indians are generally believed to love elections. The latest law to emanate from Gujarat on compulsory voting may therefore be considered by some as superfluous. However, it shows that electoral reforms need not originate only from the singular fountain head of the Union government or the Election Commission of India. Since elections to panchayats and municipalities became mandatory after the 73rd and 74th Constitutional amendments, several improvements have been adopted in some of the states. For instance, the reservation of not less than half the seats and chairpersons' positions for women has been adopted first in Bihar and now Himachal, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat. Direct elections to the posts of mayors and municipal chairpersons is another, followed in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and now in Rajasthan. Improved procedures for rotation of reserved constituencies, election observers from the civil society, enforcement of candidates filing election expenses etc. have been brought about in some other states, without having to wait for wisdom from Delhi.
The latest law from Gujarat regarding compulsory voting is one such measure. Political scientists and scholars of election practices across the world may have some reservations about the credentials of the state in making such a prescription and its outcome. Thanks to newspaper reports, we now know there are 32 other countries with compulsory voting, of which in atleast 20, the system is enforced. So it is not such an outlandish idea merely because Gujarat has come up with it.
If local democracy has to have any future in this country, it has to depend on local participation. We have had three rounds of panchayat and municipal elections in most of the states in the country over the past 15 years. The turn out in many states has varied from 60 to 80 per cent which is much higher than in the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections. Nevertheless of late, we are beginning to see a noticeable decline in turn out percentages. The most recent elections for the greater Hyderabad municipal corporation, held for the first time after the municipal area was enlarged to 625 skm merging 12 municipalities and much resistance, elicited a response only of 49 per cent. In contrast, the municipal elections in Madhya Pradesh which took place in December witnessed a turnout of 65 per cent. In Rajasthan it was about the same.
- Quake-hit and shaken, Bhaderwah spends nights in the open
- UP blast accused dies on way to jail, govt wanted to drop case against him
- Former civil aviation secy changes mind, seeks airport security exemption as EC
- BCCI suspects Gujarat players in other teams were also approached
- Police on money trail, Sreesanth in fresh trouble
- Chhattisgarh 'encounter' leaves 8 villagers dead, no Maoist link yet