Elections are of paramount importance in any Democratic country. Democracy means a government of the people, for the people and by the people. In the largest democracy in the world in terms of vastness and population, India, both the centre and the states governments are elected for a five-year tenure. More than a billion electorates participate in the election, held on the basis of the universal adult franchise. People send their ambassadors to both the Parliament and the state legislatures, expecting that their representatives will uphold their interests and work to conquer the aspiration of evolution, prosperity and uprightness while guaranteeing rights and freedom of the people. In our democratic nation, where elections are celebrated as festivals, the voting plays the most important role in shaping the fate of the people, while the people exercise the power in the elections as they make their choice and select their trusted one.
The Electoral Process
- Constituencies are separated as per the number of seats in Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections.
- The voters’ list is prepared and published.
- The Election Commission declares dates of election and the date of filing & withdrawing the nomination
- Nominations are filed.
- Nomination papers are verified.
- Campaigns are held by political parties through different mediums.
- Campaigning closes 48 hours prior to election date.
The election law in India prohibits a candidate from:
- Pressurize or bribing a voter
- Campaigning by exploiting government resources
- Manipulating or pleading voters on religion and caste
- Spending over Rs. 25 lakhs for Lok Sabha lakhs and Rs. 10 lakhs for Vidhan Sabha election.
If a candidate is found guilty of involvement in the above, the court can invalidate his/her election even after being duly elected.
There are four major types of elections held in India:
- General or Lok Sabha Elections: Every 5 years, the country is split into constituencies and one champion is elected from each constituency. In the General elections, the elected candidates turn into the Ministers of Parliament. The Lok Sabha, also known as the lower house of the Parliament, has a highest of 552 seats which can be altered if the parliament approves. The alliance that achieves the majority in the house forms the government and elects the Prime Minister of the country. The selected candidate is vital to be either a member of the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha and if he/she is not then 6 months time is given to the contender to get selected in either of the two houses.
- Rajya Sabha Elections: Rajya Sabha, the upper house of Parliament, encompasses 250 members out of which 12 are proposed by the President of India. The 12 suggested people are generally eminent public figures from different fields such as art, science, sports and literature. The Rajya Sabha members are voted every 6 years from each state Vidhan Sabha and an electoral body of the Union Territories, with two-thirds of them retiring every 2 years.
- Election of the President: The President is elected prior to the end of the present president’s term. He is indirectly elected by the people of India through Electoral College containing elected members of the Rajya Sabha, Lok Sabha, Vidhan Sabhas and Vidhan Parishads and serves an occupancy of 5 years. If the incumbent resigns or in case of his/her death, re-elections take place. Any Indian citizen, who has reached 35 years of age, has met the criteria for the Lok Sabha Elections and doesn’t have a seat in parliament, is a qualified candidate for the Presidential post.
- State Assembly Elections: The Legislative or State Assembly elections are elections in which the constituents choose the members of the Vidhan Sabha. The elections are held every 5 years in 29 states and in 2 out of the 7 Union Territories of the nation. The elected aspirants become Members of the legislative assembly (MLAs) of the respective states. The party or alliance holding a majority in the state forms the government and decide on the Chief Minister of the state.
The “None of the above” (NOTA) option
Through the NOTA option, a citizen can choose not to vote for any candidate on the list. The election commission of India approached the Supreme Court in 2009 with the NOTA option. The thought was that the negative voting will lead to a logical change as the parties will then be forced to project only clean candidates. Though the NOTA option is present on the EVMs, it has no electoral value. Even if the highest of the votes are for NOTA, the candidate with the maximum remaining votes would win. Intended to come up as the ‘right to reject’, it is left only as the expression of a negative opinion.
As a citizen of tomorrow, every young person should prepare himself for voting. We can craft a better nation by our votes. An election on the basis of adult voting seems to be the most functional way of ascertaining a truly democratic government. People chip in elections to opt for their spokesperson. The voters should be given the necessary education and insight to select only the right kind of people for the impostors and cons take advantage of the poverty and ignorance of the people. Elections form the bedrock of our democracy. They are also a way to penalize the ruling party if the people are not satisfied with the functioning by showing the way out.