Voting by all and right of not to Vote.
Author: Abraham Paul. http://wp.me/p1ZsI2-uC
The inherent perils of Democracy. Individuality in thoughts and unrelenting desire and self centric attitudes to gain superiority over the other being the basic instincts that differentiate the human race in an individual and as various collective communities of identical interests, a political setup that envisages a country be ruled by a government of the all the people, by all the people and for all the people is more an utopian myth than a realizable reality.
Therefore, it is too ambitious to wish that India, a very young federal nation inheriting long embedded ethnic variations, diverse cultures, social structures, linguistic differences, and highly dominating regional beliefs and interests, to become such an utopian democratic nation too soon.
In practical terms, democracy means not a government by all but a government of the majority. Therefore, such governments are tend to become majority opinion biased and the interest of the minority would naturally be sidelined.
In India there are basically two types of majority vote banks; both having sets and subsets of the other.
i. Majority religion based. By sensitizing the malleable in the majority religion, the power mongers can easily polarize the majority religious community as a means to come to power; which though democratic in principle, but often cannot be a secular one.
ii. The majority of socially and economically weak that readily exists in a developing nation. To get their votes in order to come to power they are appeased by every party showing the carrots that never to be, and ensures they continued to remain poor.
iii. A concoction of a mixture of the above two as being experienced in most part of the country.
The myth of majority rule. In the Indian context, about 50% of the total population only has voting rights, the remaining being below age and not yet brought in the eligible list due to various reasons. Of these, only about 50% cast their votes. Considering a vote split among three major contestants, parties that get between 9 to 11% of the total population get absolute majority and the party that can get 7 to 8 % of votes could become the largest single party. Therefore, 1% shift can tilt the scale either way. The sort of democracy that can be attained with this sort of arithmetic of people’s representation is anybody’s guess. This is one of the major perils of our type of democratic process.
On the face, it may appear that in order to safeguard the interest of all sections of the society, it is necessary to make a major change in the electoral system which can remove the indifference of the general public in exercising their franchise in various election processes. However, it is not very practical at this point of time and also may not achieve desired results for the following reasons:-
Firstly, it is necessary to find ways and means to ensure that all who are eligible to exercise their franchise cast their votes. For this every citizen should have their unique national identity cards, fully updated voting lists and foolproof and fail proof procedures to ensure fair and secret voting systems.
Voting shall be made on line. It is possible provide facility to do online voting using phones both mobile and land line on USSD bearer without the need of INTERNET.
See the schematic below.
Secondly, cent percent voting is not going to usher in secular governance by itself. As far as there is imbalance in the cast/religion based population and linguistic or regional interest based communities, and every political party resort to unethical ways, means and tactics to woo them to win elections, the chance of any member of any minority community getting elected is remote.
This fact will naturally influence the attitude of the minority communities, because for them, participation in electoral process is not only a futile effort but also voting for the candidate of the anti-interest group is like digging their own grave.
“Vote to nobody” Any sort of compulsion to vote will end up in more invalid votes or voters resort to exercise “Section 49-O” of the constitution by “Vote for nobody” when they find no one suitable to vote for. In either case, it will not deliver the required outcome in securing secular governance unless polarization of votes based on religion / cast, linguistic, regionalist and other anti-secular groupings could be stopped which is not going to be an easy task.
Therefore, cent percent voting cannot ensure adequate representation in the government for every section of the community. On the other hand it gives more opportunity for the political parties capable of resorting to activities and tactics for mobilization of the majority community voters in their favor. Because of the above reasons, a majority based governance which may be politically correct in a democratic set up cannot be deemed as a secular government that will take care of the interest all sections of the population. One method is to give higher weightage in reverse proportion to the percentage of population for the minority community votes, which is not practical, and even can be construed as violation of equality of rights by the majority community.
In this context, Section “49-O” in the constitution as per the 1969 act, that empowers a person to go to the polling booth, confirm his identity, get his finger marked and convey the presiding election officer to place on record that he doesn’t want to vote for any of the contesting candidates. In a ward or the constituency, if a candidate wins say by 5000 votes, and there are more than 5000 of “49-O” votes, then that polling will be cancelled and re-polling is resorted. Not only that, but also the candidature of the contestants will be removed and they cannot contest in the re-polling, since people had already expressed their decision on them. This would change the way; of our whole political system, and political parties will be compelled to find and place candidates based on their merits and popularity and acceptability by general public. Abraham Paul. firstname.lastname@example.org