Have the Presidential elections left you breathless? The last date for nominations of candidates is June 30. But don’t be surprised if the full list of all candidates is not known till the very last day.
Isn’t it strange that in a country of a billion people there is so much suspense and intrigue about the identity of the person who will be Head of State, till the very last moment? (President Obama’s candidacy in the US Presidential poll was known in 2006, full two years before the actual election.)
• The UPA has announced Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee as its Presidential candidate. The poll will take place on July 19 and counting of votes will be on July 22
India’s President poll is a poll that everybody seems to be keen to avoid. Everybody meaning, those who will vote. That is not all of us who are voting age citizens, but only the electoral college, consisting of our elected representatives. That is roughly 5,000 people, each having not one vote, but roughly 200 votes, amounting to a total of a million votes.
A million votes for a president of a billion people. For this poll they say that a consensus is best, because we are electing the constitutional Head of State, the one who is above partisan politics. But such unanimity and consensus is not looking likely.
A poll will take place on July 19 and counting of votes will be on July 22. If political jostling is any indication, the outcome will be pre-determined before July 19.
That’s because the million votes will be aligned along respective party lines, and are not cast in a truly secret ballot. It almost sounds like voting for a bill in Parliament, which is dictated by a whip, and one cannot vote against one’s party’s diktat.
The date on which the election of the President will be notified is June 16. Strangely, unlike elections of MP’s and MLA’s, or indeed even Panchayats, in this Presidential election the candidates are not required to disclose assets and liabilities, or even pending criminal cases.
Hopefully the Election Commission (EC) this time will change the rules on its own, and ask all candidates to be more transparent. The country will welcome such transparency, and candidates and parties will not oppose it. It is not at all improper for the EC to introduce such rules suo moto. It doesn’t always need a constitutional or legal backing.
This is best exemplified by the model code. For Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections the notification date has great significance. From that date, the model code of conduct becomes applicable. From that date the government is prohibited from announcing any new spending, or sops that may benefit voters.
Because such spending is seen as inducement to vote for the ruling party (or coalition), which is illegal. The EC assumes all powers of transfers and postings, especially of senior officials and the police.
Such is the force of the model code of conduct (MCC), that there are instances where Chief Ministers have sanctioned a slew of programmes, and cleared hundreds of files on the eve the poll notification date.
The MCC is just a code introduced by the EC and gained acceptance during the tenure of Mr. Seshan. It has no constitutional backing. If any political party decides to challenge it in a court of law, it would probably be found illegal (or at least constitutional).
But such is the moral power of the MCC that no party can dare to be seen as publicly opposing it. This is a fine example of behavior and code being enforced without the support of codified law.
Let’s hope that in the upcoming Presidential “election” the EC will introduce a new rule for transparency, even though the law does not mandate disclosure of information. The next President would then be the most transparent so far.
Not really in the red
This refers to Ajit Ranade’s column ‘Breaking the pessimism spiral’ (? PM? , June 9). I agree with the author’s view that the economic condition of India is not as bleak as it is being portrayed in the media.
Secondly, the observations of Standard and Poor’s need to be taken with a pinch of salt. The slowing down of growth, mainly due to poor factory output, should not bother us as long as agriculture and IT sectors are making steady contributions.
As of today, the political clouds over presidential election, to be held next month, have started withering away. This augurs well for the economy as the uncertainty had held back key policy reforms.
- V K Agarwal