October - 2011
THE TIMES OF LEAGUE
MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER,
MrBanatwalla, you have alreadymoved your amendment. In viewof what the Law Minister has said,do you want to press it? He is goingto have a meeting with all theopposition leaders after sometime.That is what you also want. Youwant an all-party parliamentarycommittee to be set up If you want,you may explain it.SHRI G.M. BANATWALLAH(Ponnani): We have just heardthe Minister. It its abundantlyclear that everyone acknowledgesthe need for radical reforms inelectoral laws and processes.There is no dearth. whatsoever of recommendations. Prof. Dandavatewas also kind enough to give us acatalogue of various committeesand commissions which havemade recommendations fromtime to time. Even the Chief Election Commissioner has enteredthe fray and has made variousrecommendations. incudingrecommendations for identitycards, electronic devices for votingand counting etc., Despite thefact that everyone acknowledgesthe need for reforms and despitethe fact that there is no dearthof recommendations the electoralreforms are still on deferred list.I submit that this is because of the lack of political will sustainedby a lack of national consensus. Itherefore, say that the need of thehour today is to secure a nationalconsensus on this vital aspect.That is why. I have moved myamendment saying that an all partycommmittee be formed here andnow. Let us start this process willsustained by national consensusrather thatn continue to live withall sorts of excuses. It was thelack of this political will sustainedby national consensus that wehad a very sorry spectacle in thisHouse. When Janata Party was inpower a Bill was introduced for thepurpose of preventing defecton anda Member of the Janata Party wasin power a Bill was introduced forthe purpose of preventing defectionand a Member ofr the JanataParty itself rose with the loudestpossible opposition to it and theentire thing collapsed/ Hence Iemphasize the need for a nationalconsensus to start. Otherwise I amsure that the electoral reforms willcontinue to be in the deferred list.There are various threats to theelectoral process as represented bydefective electoral rolls, the role of money, the rigging, impersonation,the misuse of of
cial media or theannouncement of bounties on theeve of elections and so on. As faras rigging and other things areconcerned; I have no doubt inmy time that what happened inGarhwal is a case which requiresserious study. It is, therefore,necessary that we take all thesethings into consideration. Thesecomplaints are not new. As far the role of the money isconcerned. there were complaintseven after the
rst general electionof 1952 of money having played agreat role. I remember at that timethe late lamented Prime Minister,Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, had said thatwhile talking of the role of money wemust not make any generalization.He said that despite the role of money many money-bags weredefeated at the polls and manyhave-nots were elected. However.we have to admit the fact that therole of money is on the increasenow. Are we to consider merelythese assaults on the electoralprocess? Are we merely to considerthreats to the electoral process?Then we are far from cutting at theroot of the malaise. It is necessaryto take fundamental issues intoconsideration.
There is need forproportional representation.
There is also the question of compulsory audit of the accountof all the political parties. Variousfundamental issues are there. Itis necessary to have a nationaldialogue. It is necessary to havea national dialogue. It is necessaryto have a national consensus. It iswith this particular idea that I havemoved my amendment. I commendmy amendment to the Housestressing the need for a nationalconsensus on the consensus on thespeci
c electoral reforms that mustbe carried out. Let us dedicateourselves to this task immediately.
17 November 1983
SHRI G.M. BANATWALLA,
(Ponnani): It cannot be deniedthat the electoral process todayis vitiated by a large number of shortcomings, defects and corruptpractices. These may be the offshootof a crisis of character among theso-called politicians. Neverthelessthe fact remains that there is alurking danger of people losingfaith in democracy, elections anddemocractic institutions.There is no doubt there is anubabashed manipulation of political,economic, social and administrativein
uences. There is therefore, aneed for urgent steps towardselectoraol reforms and we mustgive up any attitude of complacencyor optimism based on expediencyand even a sense of despair.There is no dearth of proposals forelectoral reforms. We have even theproposals coming from the ElectionCommission and these proposalscover a very wide range. For avery effective and cleaner electoralprocess I must insist upon theadoption of the proportional systemof representation. reducing thevoting age from 21 to 18, removingof dominant role of money bags inelections, prevention of defectionsas also establishment of a fullfunctional control of the ElectionCommission over the ElectionDepartments in the States. I mustalso strongly urge for a system bywhich the Indian residents abroadcan also participate in our electoralprocess.The present Government, soonafter coming into power in the year1980, promised to bring forward acomprehensive Bill but now we arereaching almost towards the endof the term and the Bill is not insight. The process of considerationis non-ending. We are told thatthere is a Cabinet Sub-committeeand so on and so forth but thenthe Minister must take the Houseinto con
dence and let us know theposition with respect therto. I mayconcede that legislation alone maynot help but as it is, the legislationcan generate tendencies, releasenew forces and issue messages,Indeed values and norms are veryimportant. It is, therefore, verydespairing to find, very dismalrecord, I must say, to
nd that alarge number of defectors evenreach ministerial positions and eventhe positions of the Chief Minister. As has already been pointed outin this House, all these encourageunhealthy trends.The main purpose of the electoralprocess is to bring into existence aParliament or an Assembly thatre
ects the true popular will. Indiais a plural socity. It is, threforeabsolutely necessary that theelectoral system adopted mustresult in the existence of a Housewhich is a true mirror of the nation.Therefore, I and my party alwaysinsist upon the adoption of theproportional representation and thelist system. It is this system thatis based on the principle of givingrepresentation to all sections of opinion and is also based on theprinciple that no vote is-wasted. It isalso a aystem which checks briberyand such other evil practices.While we are on the questionof electoral reforms, we have alsoto see to it no scope is left for thearbitrary and functioning of theElection Commission itself. I amhere constrained to refer to thepresent situtation in the two districtsof Bihar - Pumea and Katihar. TheState Electoral Of
cer there hasissued thousand of notices tovoters to come forward and adduceevidences of their citizenship.It will be shocking to know thatthere has been absolutely no basisfor the issue of those notices. Anarbitrary and authoritative actionhas been taken. I am told that thepresent roll was simply taken andcompared with the past roll andthe names which were not therein the past roll but were found inthe present roll were arbritrarilyselected ar random and thousandsand thousands of notices have beenserved upon the innoecent votersover there to adduce evidences of their citizenship.We are told that this action hasbeen taken under section 21(1) of the Registration of Electors Rules,1960. But this rule deals with thedeletion of the names of the deadelectors and persons who cease tobe ordinarly resident: it has nothingto do whatsoever with citzenship..I must say that there has beenthroughout the length and breadthof the country, an increasing and
Excerpts from Banatwalla’s Parliamentary Speech
On Electroal Reform - August 1981
(See Page No. 5)