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Q. Rajyasabha election controversy: In the backdrop of recent Rajyasabha election controversy, discuss the issues that election commission is facing while conducting Rajyasabha Polls.
Jun 08, 2016 Related to : GS paper-2

Ans :

Introduction-

According to article 80 of Indian constitution 233 members of Rajyasabha (out of 245) are elected by the Legislative Assembly of States and Union territories by means of Single transferable vote through Proportional representation. MLA’s of the state assemblies elect the Rajyasabha members.

Recent controversy-

The sting operation by two national news channels purportedly showed that Karnataka MLAs were negotiating cash for votes for a Rajyasabha election. It has caused a furore over the phenomenon of horse-trading.

Such instances became quite normal during Rajyasabha polls. In this background many blamed election commission as toothless body for its ineffectiveness in Rajyasabha elections. But it is not easy for election commission to contain such practice due to different nature of Rajyasabha election.

Issues before EC in managing Rajyasabha elections-

  • Due to different nature of Rajyasabha election, there is no model code of conduct in operation. Hence EC does not have enough powers that it enjoys during general elections.

  • As its constituency is confined to a small Electoral College consisting of MLAs, hence there in the absence public meetings, rallies, door-to-door canvassing or media campaigns, it is very difficult to trace such horse trading

  • Though recognised parties MLAs are subject to party discipline but the independents MLA’s does not have any restrictions.

  • Even if recorded tapes available, but according to law  the intention to commit an offence is not a crime except in the case of dacoity. In case no money caught, then even election commission may face judicial reprimand.

  • The issues discussed above limits the powers of EC in case of Rajyasabha polls and Hence there is need of effective solution to contain horse trading in Rajyasabha elections.

Suggestions-

In case of present controversy-

EC should ascertain the fullest possible facts. As law requires evidence and EC’s orders are subject to judicial scrutiny. Hence it needs enough evidence to pursue a case. In case of evidence of corruption found it must take stern action.

For effective solution-

  • Though EC enjoys plenary power granted by Article 324 of the Constitution, but there is need of enabling legal provision. Hence Section 58 of the Representation of the People Act should be amended to make abuse of money a ground to countermand the polls.

  • Like candidates, government must fix a ceiling on the expenditure by political parties for candidates.

  • Domicile clause for candidates that was done away with in 2003 must be restored to stop wealthy candidates from outside the state from jumping into the fray.

  • State funding of political parties, not elections, must be considered while banning private fund collection totally.
  • To prevent cross-voting by horse-trading, the anti-defection law should be amended to declare the violation of the party whip as defection.

Conclusion-

People’s faith in democracy is paramount, if they lose faith the consequences are disastrous. Hence time has came political parties must discuss the overall problem of money power vitiating the election process and carry out necessary electoral reforms. Government must undertake necessary steps to make EC more effective in Rajyasabha polls also.


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