Several Parties Lack National Outlook, Regrets Former CEC
Speakers at a panel discussion on ‘Electoral Integrity’ on Thursday underlined the need for young voters to elect as many as good candidates as possible and mooted the constitution of the National Election Fund (NEF) to conduct polls in a fair and free manner.
The discussion was jointly organised by the VIT University, Election Commission of India, Forum for Electoral Integrity (FEI) and Youth Exnora.
Former Chief Election Commissioner of India T K Krishnamoorthy, who was one of the panelists, suggested that donations from corporate companies could be pooled in for the NEF directly.
He suggested also that proliferation of political parties must be contained and separate laws framed to control them. He said many parties seemed to have poor national outlook. The nexus between parties and corporates should be contained. Increasing the ceiling of expenditure to `70 lakh per candidate in a constituency would only aggravate the situation, he said. This time over 10 crore youngsters would be voting and ‘they could change things in choosing right persons as their representatives in Parliament,’ he added.
Former Chief Election Commissioner N Gopalsami, while stressing the need for choosing right, clean and good candidates in the election process, said around 25 per cent of the members of the last elections had criminal cases.
“If the candidates were spending more than what was required, then they were doing business,” he said while quoting a study in Karnataka that indicated that candidates who sought re-election between 2003 and 2008 elections had amassed wealth manifold.
He urged the students and other youngsters to make use of the modern social media tools to educate about election and involve themselves in achieving electoral integrity.
Convenor of the FEI Devasahayam said, “If you elect corrupt people you will get corrupt governance,” he said adding,“Use the tool of vote to defeat wrong people in the election by using NOTA.” While Lokpal was a backend solution to clean the political system, election is the frontend tool to prevent disasters, he further said.
VIT Chancellor G Viswanathan said unless the political parties had inner-party democracy, they would not be able to uphold quality democracy. He suggested that only national- level parties must be allowed to contest general elections. During the floor discussion, the panelists answered questions from the student-audience.