Private bill on electoral reforms debated in Lok Sabha

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New Delhi, Apr 25 (UNI) A private member bill, seeking setting up of an Electoral Reforms Commission for suggesting poll reforms, came up for discussion in the Lok Sabha with BJP members opposing the suggestion and Left parties lending full support to the issue.

The Bill was introduced by Mr C K Chandrappan (CPI) in the last winter session of Parliament on November 30, 2007.

Participating in the discussion, BJP member M A Kharbala Swain opposed the very nature of the private member bill on electoral reforms, saying the issue as serious as that should have been introduced in the form of a resolution.

On the one hand the bill seeks electoral reforms on the basis of recommendations of a committee set up for that purpose, on the other it comes out with a number of suggestions for streamlining the election system which includes 15 per cent reservation for women, introducing proportional representation and making provision for state funding of elections.

It is significant that while the CPI has all along been advocating 33 per cent seat reservation for women its member's bill talked about something contrary.

On the suggestion of proportional representation, he said in a vast county like India it would not be possible on account of various logistics and other reasons.

Like Mr Swain, Congress member Sandeep Dikshit also opposed State funding of elections as it has every possibility of being misused by contesting candidates.

Mr Mohan Singh (SP) was highly critical of the present election system, saying it had derailed a democracy to such an extent that the democratic will of the people rarely got reflected through elected leaders. With money and muscle power getting precedence over fairness, the democratic system is now facing real challenges to its survival.

Mr Gurudas Dasgupta(CPI)was forthright in saying any person with a heavy purse could find a seat for himself in the Rajya Sabha. And recently three representatives of big corporate houses got an entry into the Upper House of Parliament as independent candidates obviously with the use the money power.

How such people would allow any government to unearth black money which, in fact, was now running a near parallel government, corrupting governance and inculcating violence in Indian society.

There should be a bar on such elections, he demanded.

Mr Dasgupta favoured the ''Nepal model'' of the electoral system which comprises 50 per cent direct election of members and 50 per cent by proportional representation. Thus, the ultimate outcome of such election would carry the majority opinion as against the existing Indian elections in which a minority claims to represent the majority.

Similarly, Mr K S Manoj(CPI) also supported state funding and reforms of the election system at the earliest. Mr Bhartruhari Mahtab(BJD) said the high points of the presidential system of the US should also be included in the Indian electoral system.

Giving clarification on the issue, Law Minister H R Bhardwaj said the forefathers of the Indian Constitution had already rejected the presidential system and had strictly gone in for the parliamentary system which ''we are now following''.

At the same time, Mr Satyanaraynan Jatiya (BJP) also sought reforms in the existing electoral system, saying that causes more rivalry and enmity among contenting candidates instead of promoting a healthy political competition.

Prof M Ramadass (PMK) also participated in the debate which remained inconclusive.

UNI JSS/BKS RL BD1855

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