Election Provisions under Indian Constitution

02 Nov 2019

Election Provisions under Indian Constitution

Electoral System in India:

The electoral system in India has been adapted from the system followed in the United Kingdom. India is a socialist, secular, democratic republic and the largest democracy in the world. The modern Indian nation-state came into existence on 15 August 1947.

For the Election Provisions under the Indian Constitution complete notes PDF, check the link – Election Provisions under Indian Constitution PDF.

Articles 324 to 329 in part XV of the Constitution make the following provisions concerning the electoral system in our country.

(i) Article 324 of the Indian Constitution provides for an independent Election Commission to ensure free and fair elections in the country. At present, the commission consists of a Chief Election Commissioner and two Election Commissioners.
(ii) The Parliament may make provision concerning all matters relating to elections to the Parliament including the preparation of electoral rolls, the delimitation of constituencies, and all other matters necessary for securing their due constitution.
(iii) The state legislatures can also make provisions for all matters relating to elections to the state legislatures including the preparation of electoral rolls and all other matters necessary for securing their due constitution.

(a) Election Process:

At the national level, the head of government, the Prime Minister, is elected by members of the Lok Sabha, the lower house of the Parliament in India. In a representative democracy like ours, elections are extremely important. Voting in elections is the best way to make your ‘voice’ heard.

(b) Introduction of the NOTA Option:

If the people in a democratic country are not willing to elect any candidate, they can vote for the option called NOTA (None Of The Above). Rule 49-O in the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961, of India describes this procedure.

  • NOTA was first introduced in the General Elections held in 2014. India is the 14th country in the world to introduce NOTA.
  • Voter’s Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) is the way forward to enhance the credibility and transparency of the election process. This system was first introduced in the 2014 General Election.

(c) Types of Elections in India

Elections are classified into two types: direct and indirect elections.

(i). Direct Elections

People directly vote for the candidates in the fray and elect their representatives. The following are examples of direct elections in which people over the age of 18 years participate in the electoral process by casting their votes.
(i) Lok Sabha elections, in which the Members of Parliament are elected.
(ii) Elections to the state Legislative Assemblies, in which the Members of Legislative Assemblies are elected.
iii) Elections to the local governing bodies, in which members of the local governing bodies like the municipal corporation or the panchayat are elected.

Merits of Direct Elections:

(i) As the voters elect their representatives directly, direct elections are considered to be a more democratic method of election.
(ii) It educates people regarding government activities and helps in choosing the appropriate candidates. Also, it encourages people to play an active role in politics.
(iii) It empowers people and makes the rulers accountable for their actions.

Demerits of Direct Elections:

(i) Direct elections are very expensive.
(ii) Illiterate voters sometimes get misguided by false propaganda and sometimes campaigning based on caste, religious and various other sectarian considerations spouse serious challenges.
(iii) Since conducting direct elections is a massive exercise, ensuring free and fair elections at every polling station is a major challenge to the Election Commission.
(iv) There are instances of some political candidates influencing the voters through payments in the form of cash, goods or services.
(v) Election campaigns sometimes result in violence, tension, law and order problems and affect the day-to-day life of people.

(ii). Indirect Elections

Voters elect their representatives, who, in turn, elect their representatives to formal offices like the President’s office.

Merits of Indirect Elections:

(i) Indirect elections are less expensive.
(ii) It is more suited to elections in large countries.

Demerits of Indirect Elections:

(i) If the number of voters is very small, there exists the possibility of corruption, bribery, horse trading, and other unfair activities.
(ii) It is less democratic because people do not have a direct opportunity to elect, but they instead do it through their representatives. So, this may not reflect the true will of the people.

2. Political Parties

Political parties are an essential part of democracy. Parties are the link between the government and the people.

(a). Meaning of Political Party

A political party is an organisation formed by a group of people with a certain ideology and agenda to contest elections and hold power in the government. A political party has three components: a leader, active members, and followers.

(b). Types of a Party System

There are three types of party systems in the world namely.
i. The single-party system in which one ruling party exists and no opposition is permitted. China, Cuba, the former USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) are examples of the single-party system.
ii. The two-party system in which only two major parties exist, for example, the USA, UK.
iii. The multi-party systems in which there are more than two political parties, for example, India, Sri Lanka, France, and Italy.

(c). Types of Political Parties

Political parties in India are classified according to their area of influence into two main types:(1) national and (2) state parties.

(i). National Parties

A party that is recognized as a state party in at least four states is recognized as a national party. Every party in the country has to register with the Election Commission while the Commission treats all the parties equally. It offers some special facilities to state and national parties. These parties are given a unique symbol. Only the official candidate of the party can use that election symbol. In 2017, there were seven recognized national parties.

(ii) State Parties

Other than the seven national parties, most of the major parties of the country are classified by the Election Commission as ‘state parties’. These are commonly referred to as regional parties. A party is recognized as a state party by the Election Commission of India based on a certain percentage of votes secured or a certain number of seats won in the Assembly or Lok Sabha elections.

(iii) Recognition of the Parties

To get recognition as a ‘national party’, a party has to fulfill any one of the following criteria:
i. At least 6% vote in at least four states and members of the Lok Sabha.
ii. In the election of Lok Sabha, at least 2% of members from at least three states are elected to Lok Sabha.
iii. Recognition as a state party in at least four states.

(iv) Functions of Political Parties

  • Parties contest elections. In most democracies, elections are fought mainly among the candidates put up by political parties.
  • Parties put forward their policies and programs before the electorate to consider and choose.
  • Parties play a decisive role in making laws for a country. Formally, laws are debated and passed in the legislature.
  • Parties form and run the governments.
  • Those parties that lose in the elections play the role of the Opposition to the party or a group of coalition parties in power, by voicing different views and criticizing the government for its failures or wrong policies.
  • Parties shape public opinion. They raise and highlight issues of importance.
  • Parties function as a useful link between people and the government machinery.

(d). Role of Opposition Parties in a Democracy

In a democracy, there may be a two-party system like in the USA or a multi-party system like in India and France. The ruling party may have received the mandate of the majority of people and the Opposition party represented the remaining people. The Leader of the Opposition party occupied a prominent place in all democratic forms of government. He enjoys the rank of a Cabinet Minister. He opposes the wrong policies of the ruling party, which affects the general public. The Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee questions the functioning of the government departments and examines the public money used for the well-being of the people. Similarly, he plays an important role in selecting the Chairman and members of the Central Vigilance Commission, Chairperson and members of the Information Commission. The Opposition Parties reflect genuine demands and concerns of the people to play a constructive role in a democracy.

For the Election Provisions under the Indian Constitution complete notes PDF, check the link – Election Provisions under Indian Constitution PDF.

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