Electoral Politics Class 9 Chapter Notes: The chapter discusses the various components of the electoral process, the role and powers of election commission, the merits and demerits of electoral politics etc. The notes are written under different headings to help students understand the chapter in a proper sequence.
Need for Elections in a Democracy
The question arises as why we need elections. The chapter starts with an example of electoral process on an Assembly Election in Haryana. We would also know as how elections are necessary despite some demerits of democratic elections.
Assembly Election in Haryana
- Haryana had been ruled by a Congress-led government since 1982.
- Chaudhary Devi Lal, the then opposition leader, led the Nyaya Yudh, or Struggle for Justice, movement and formed the Lok Dal political party.
- After winning 76 seats under Devi Lal’s leadership, the Lok Dal and its allied parties formed a government.
- Following his election as CM, Devi Lal kept his promise to waive the loans of farmers, businesspersons and agricultural labourers.
- In the 1991 state assembly elections, Congress reclaimed power from the Lok Dal.
Why do we need elections?
The process by which people choose their representatives at regular intervals is known as Election. Therefore, elections are considered essential in our times for any representative democracy.
- People have a say in who makes rules for them. they do so by changing government through their votes during elections.
- People can choose or change their representatives at regular intervals
- People have the power to select who forms the government and who makes big decisions
- People can select the political party whose policies will direct the government and legislative process
What makes an election democratic?
Elections are democratic under the following conditions:
- Everyone has one vote, which has equal value.
- Parties and candidates are free to contest elections, which give voters options.
- Elections are conducted every few years, at regular intervals.
- The people’s preferred candidate is elected.
- Elections are held in a free and fair way, with people able to vote as they truly desire.
Elections are all about the political competition.
- Political or electoral competition is at the core of elections and is the most obvious form of rivalry between political parties.
- At the constituency level, political competition can take place between multiple candidates. (A constituency is a geographical area where voters elect one representative to a legislative body.)
- If there is no competition, elections will become pointless.
Demerits of electoral competition
Political competition may have the following disadvantages:
- It creates a sense of disunity and party politics.
- Parties try to bring their opponent down by all means, including making untrue allegations.
- Long-term policies cannot be devised.
- It can create a feeling of ‘factionalism’.
- Some decent people who want to do public work may opt out of electoral politics because they do not want to engage in unhealthy competition.
Merits of electoral competition
Electoral competitions should be allowed because of the following reasons:
- Despite awareness of the problems of electoral rivalry, the framers of the Constitution preferred free elections as the means for choosing our future leaders.
- Even though political leaders’ desire for position and power fuels political rivalry, they need people’s support to gain and maintain power.
- This would be unlikely unless they serve the people.
- As a result, if they want to remain in power for a longer period of time, they would have to work harder for the people.
- Thus, political rivalry is said to be advantageous in the long run.
- Regular electoral competition can provide political parties and leaders with the motivation to represent the public in a better manner.
- Political parties recognise that addressing issues that voters care about boosts their support and chances of winning the next election.
- On the contrary, if their work is unpopular with the public, they will be unable to win again and will be replaced by their opposing party.
System of Elections
We should know the different steps and processes involved in elections in India. The system holding elections is explained here.
Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections
- Elections to the Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha (assemblies) are held every five years in India.
- The term of all elected officials expires after five years, and the Lok Sabha or Vidhan Sabha stand ‘dissolved’.
Types of Elections
General Elections: Elections are held simultaneously in all constituencies, either on the same day or within a few days. This is known as a general election.
Mid-Term Elections: Sometimes, the Lok Sabha and the Vidhan Sabha are dissolved and an election is held before the expiry of their full term of five years. Such an election is called a mid-term election
By-elections: Elections are sometimes held for only one constituency to fill a vacancy created by the death or resignation of a member. This is known as a by-election.
- India follows an area-based system of representation in which the country is divided into constituencies for the purpose of elections.
- A constituency is a geographic region that has one representative elected by voters registered in that region.
- For Lok Sabha elections, the country is divided into 543 constituencies.
- The representative elected from each constituency is called a Member of Parliament, or an MP.
- Each state is also divided into a certain number of assembly constituencies and its elected representatives are called Members of Legislative Assembly or an MLAs.
- People from scheduled castes (SC) and scheduled tribes (ST) and other backward classes (OBC) have reserved constituencies.
- Only someone who belongs to the above categories can stand for elections in these areas.
- Currently, 84 seats in the Lok Sabha are reserved for scheduled castes and 47 seats for scheduled tribes.
- Once the constituencies are decided, the next step is to decide who can and who cannot vote.
- The official document that includes the names and information of eligible voters is called the electoral roll, or more commonly, the voters’ list.
- Who can Vote?
- All the citizens of age 18 years and above can vote in a election. Every citizen has the right to vote, regardless of his or her caste, religion or gender.
- Who cannot vote?
- Some criminals and persons with unsound mind can be denied the right to vote, but only in rare situations.
- Identity proofs for voting
- The Indian Government has introduced the Election Photo Identity Card [EPIC] System. Every eligible voter on the list is issued a Photo Identity Card. Carrying this EPIC is not mandatory. Instead, voters can provide proof of identity like ration card or driving licence to exercise their right to vote.
Nomination of candidates
- Whoever wants to contest an election must fill out a ‘nomination form’ and pay a ‘security deposit’.
- Every candidate has to make a legal declaration, giving full details of:
- Serious criminal cases pending against the candidate.
- Details of the assets and liabilities of the candidate and his or her family.
- Educational qualifications of the candidate.
- Filing nomination papers:
- The returning officers are in charge of filing nomination papers.
- Scrutiny of nomination papers: Scrutiny is performed to determine whether the information provided in the nomination papers is accurate.
- Withdrawal of nominations: After the scrutiny, the candidates are granted a period to withdraw their nominations.
- Election campaigning is the process through which a candidate attempts to convince people to vote for him rather than other candidates.
- Rallies, conventions, processions, door-to-door visits are different campaigning methods.
- According to our election law, candidates cannot:
- Threaten or bribe voters
- Make a religious or caste appeal to them
- Use government resources for election campaign
- Spend more than 25 lakhs in a constituency in a Lok Sabha election, and more than 10 lakhs in an assembly election
- For election campaigns, all Indian political parties have agreed to a model Code of Conduct.
- Candidates cannot use a place of worship or government vehicles for election propaganda as per this code
- Some of the successful slogans given by different political parties in various elections:
- The Congress party led by Indian Gandhi gave the slogan of Garibi Hatao (Remove poverty) in the Sabha elections of 1971.
- Save Democracy was the slogan given by Janata Party under the leadership of Jayaprakash Narayan, in the Lok Sabha election held in 1977.
- The Left Front used the slogan of Land to the Tiller in the West Bangal Assembly elections held in 1977.
- ‘Protect the Self-Respect of Telugus’ given by Desam Party in Andhra Pradesh Assembly elections in 1983.
- Modal code of conduct: All political parties in India have to follow a common code of conduct. According to it, no political party or candidate can:
- Use any place of worship for election propaganda.
- Use government vehicles, air crafts and officials for elections.
- Once elections are announced, Ministers shall not lay foundation stones of any projects, take any big policy decisions or make any promises of providing public facilities.
Polling and counting of votes
- Polling: The election campaign comes to an end 48 hours before polling day.
- Presiding officers and polling officers oversee the polling process.
- Candidates use electronic voting machines (EVMs) to cast their votes.
- Result: After the voting is completed, the EVMs are sealed and transported to a counting centre.
- Counting is performed on a set date and time.
- The candidate who receives the most votes in a constituency is declared seated.
Election Commission of India
Political parties and candidates adopt unfair practices and dirty tricks to win their seats. Election Commission is the authority to regulate elections to conduct them in a free and fair atmosphere.
Unfair practices in elections to get votes
- The inclusion of false names in voters’ list
- The exclusion of genuine names in voters’ list
- The misuse of government facilities for election campaigns
- The misuse of funds during election campaigns
- Voter intimidation
- Election rigging
Independent Election Commission
India has a democratic election system. The election system in India is controlled and governed by an independent and very powerful body called the Election Commission (EC).
- The Election Commission of India (EC) is in charge of elections in India.
- The President of India appoints the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC).
- The Election Commission is self-governing and has a wide range of powers.
- The powers of the Election Commission are as follows:
- The Election Commission is a strong and independent body.
- All aspects of elections are decided independently by the Election Commission.
- The Election Commission has the authority to enforce the code of conduct and penalise any party that violates it.
- Officials from government bodies who are on election duty work under its supervision.
- The Election Commission has the authority to order the government to obey certain rules to prevent the government from abusing its powers during elections.
What makes the electoral system in India democratic and the challenges it faces?
Popular Participation makes the electoral system in India democratic
- People’s enthusiasm and active participation do a good job of maintaining the quality of the electoral process in India.
- It helps in ensuring that elections in India are conducted by an independent, strong and neutral body.
- In India, voter turnout figures have gone up, which is proof of active political participation by the people.
- In India, the poor, illiterate and underprivileged people vote in larger proportion as compared to the rich and privileged sections.
- The general public’s participation in India’s political activities is so high that one out of every seven voters belongs to a political party.
- Except for a few debated elections, the electoral outcomes are usually accepted as ‘people’s verdict’ by the defeated party.
Acceptance of Election Outcome:
One final test of the free and fairness of the election is the outcome of the election.
- The ruling parties routinely lose elections in India both at the national and state level.
- In the US, an incumbent or ‘sitting’ elected representative rarely loses an election. In India, about half of the
sitting MPs or MLAs lose elections.
- Candidates who are known to have spent a lot of money on ‘buying votes’ and those with known criminal
connections often lose elections.
- Barring very few disputed elections, the electoral outcomes are usually accepted as ‘people’s verdict’ by the
Challenges faced by Indian elections
There are many constraints and obstacles in Indian elections.
- In comparison to larger parties, smaller parties and independent candidates face significant disadvantages.
- Candidates and parties with money and influence have an unfair edge over smaller parties and independent candidates.
- Candidates with criminal ties have been able to force others out of the race and win a ‘ticket’ from major political parties.
- Party tickets are sometimes given to family members of these candidates.
- Ordinary people do not have real choice because major parties are almost similar in their policies and practices.