For a mature democracy like India, limitations of electoral system need to be addressed: Ansari
Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari on Friday said that a mature democracy like India could ill-afford to rest on its achievements and laurels, and must maturely address limitations of election management.
Speaking after conferring the "National Awards for Best Electoral Practice" on the occasion of the Third National Voters Day organized by the Election Commission of India, Ansari said: "Perfection is a matter of receding horizons. The experience of six decades propels us to examine it critically. This would show, firstly, that every citizen entitled to vote does not exercise this right and secondly, that the First-Past-The-Post system adopted by us, often results in the winner obtaining less than a majority of the votes cast."
He further opined that the conclusion is inescapable that a majority of elected members of the Lok Sabha in recent years, and even earlier, have and had won on a minority of votes cast in their constituencies.
"The situation is no better, perhaps worse, in State Assembly Elections with percentage of returned candidates on minority of votes cast going above 70 percent in several cases. When this percentage is considered alongside the average voter turn out, it would suggest that the elected representative may not, often is not, representative of his/her electoral constituency," Ansari said.
He said this system encourages candidates to focus on securing votes of a segment of the electorate, and thereby, accentuate or reinforce social divisions based on narrower considerations that derogate from inclusiveness and promote divisive tendencies and social conflict.
Lauding the efforts of Election Commission, the vice-president said that the high standards set by it in election management, are now globally recognized.
"In fact, the Commission is now sharing its resources on election management with other countries through the India International Institute of Democracy and Election Management. The aim of the National Voters' Day is to bring every eligible citizen on the electoral roll with primary focus on the newly eligible voter, i.e. the 18-19 years old," said Ansari.
Ansari also said that the 15 general elections and 350 state assembly polls that the Election Commission has conducted over the last six decades was a huge achievement, given the magnitude and complexity of the Indian electoral process.
This fact could be gauged from the 2009 General Election, where the electorate numbered more than 714 million and it was catered to by 10 lakh polling booths in which about 50 lakh personnel were deployed. About 360 parties put forth candidates and the average voter turn out was 59.7 percent, the vice-president said.