Sunday, May 3, 2009
ELECTORAL EQUATIONS AND EELAM
Will his be the last laugh?
A poet had so beautifully put it that ‘in the womb of every defeat lies hidden a victory’. This exactly seems to be the case with the much hunted LTTE leader Prabakaran. Precisely when on the brink of total defeat and possible capture/death, his popularity has shot to meteoric heights. It may not be an exaggeration to say that he is the most charismatic and popular figure in Tamil Nadu today and the entire Tamil Nadu politics, especially in the background of the coming parliamentary elections in May, is revolving round the horrible plight of Sri Lankan Tamils and the tragic situation of the LTTE facing complete liquidation exacerbated by the sting of Sri Lankan victory howls which cut at the self-respect of Tamils all over the world. Leaders of the like of Ramadas, founder of PMK, have likened him to Netaji and lauded him as a great freedom fighter. Truly one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter, and that is why and how, despite the grave blunders and excesses by himself and the LTTE, Prabakaran has become the apple of the eye of a majority of Tamils. And today, even Jayalalitha, once bitterly opposed to the LTTE and herself hunted by them, turned a strong supporter of Tamil Eelam, of course election gimmicks forming a big part of her passion. And Karunanidhi should be reminiscing his days of rapport with Periyar and the good old Dravidanadu campaigns. We already know Vaiko of MDMK being a great fan of Prabakaran. Earlier once we had already cautioned that unless something urgent and meaningful is done for relieving the impasse of Sri Lankan Tamils and the mindset blaming LTTE for everything is changed, Tamil Nadu itself may burn in future. Prabakaran live or dead is going to be a big problem for India and wisdom lies in keeping him alive and free and try negotiate and settle with him. We reiterate the same lest the Tamils all over the world, in no distant future, should look to shift the demand, location and flames of Eelam to Tamil Nadu itself §§§
Posted by I.M.Sharma at 9:55 AM
MAKE IT FUNDAMENTAL!
May be startling but it is true that, albeit a constitutional provision that elections to parliament and assemblies are to be on the basis of adult suffrage, the right of universal and equal adult franchise through secret ballot is not a fundamental right in our constitution – this despite the clear assertion in Article 21 (3) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 that “The will of the people … shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedure” and the initial discussions, though scanty, in our Constituent Assembly to make it a fundamental right. Also no amendments to that extent were tried even later though the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1966 [ratified by India in 1979] also declared that “[25(2). Every citizen shall have the right and the opportunity …] to vote and to be elected at genuine periodic elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret ballot, guranteeing the freedom of expression and will of the electors.” We find many drawbacks in our election system stifling the people’s free choice to elect and get elected. An arbitrarily appointed Election Commission is vested with wide discretionary (say near-arbitrary) powers and the courts are prohibited to intervene whatever the blunders committed by it until after the elections. Several thousand persons, with voter identity cards even, do not find place in the electoral rolls, but no remedy is available to them as superior courts refuse to intervene except in case of ‘by way of election petition after elections’; also genuine electors barred to contest election due to capricious rejection of nomination forms on hyper-technical grounds have nowhere to go for immediate relief. But if the right to vote be made fundamental, the superior courts would be in duty bound to conduct judicial review and reach requisite immediate justice. Hence we want such right to be made a fundamental one and we have no doubt that this demand will get widespread support. §§§
Editorial TO PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION of 15-31 March 2009 Martyra Memorial Special issue of Law Animated World
To Proportional Representation
we must switch over if we really want to curb, totally eliminate may be too tall a wish, money-power and criminalization of politics perverting our democratic system. The much vaunted Constitution we have is largely copied from the infamous Government of India Act 1935, which in itself distortedly reflected the plurality voting system of Great Britain. It is the colonial legacy which resulted in our adhesion to this not-so-happy electoral system, where the legitimate claims of various sections of the people are blissfully neglected. A party securing even 30-35% of the popular vote can win all or most of the posts and an opposition with around 25% votes may not secure even 10-20% of the seats, and less favoured ones with 10-20% or less, but with considerable support from weaker sections or minorities, may draw a mere cipher. This cannot be called really representative democracy and defeats the very ideals of justice - social, political and economic, and of democratic governance, adumbrated in our Constitution. For example, the Madiga Reservation Porata Samiti (MRPS), which has now decided to contest independently in the state of Andhra Pradesh, may bag around 10% of vote in the coming elections but get no seats, whereas the communist parties which together may not get more than 5-6% of popular vote may secure 8-10 Assembly plus 2-4 Lok Sabha seats thanks to their alliance and the present first-past-the-post system. This surely cannot be called just or equitable. There is something like ethical equality which may be more precious than mere political equality. Even in the U.K., Northern Ireland and Wales Legislatures have opted for proportional systems; and Ireland and Scotland are already in that category. Only some 45-50 out of the 200 odd countries of the world adopt this plurality system whereas many of the most developed democracies in Europe as well as South Africa and New Zealand follow the proportional system. Whether it should be by the party-list method or Single Trnasferable Vote, etc. can be worked out, but we feel it is high time that people here think, discuss and overcome the current inherited inertia and bring a salutary change in the electoral system of the country. To begin with we may opt for partial proportionality and experiment it in a few states before making it countrywide. This change would certainly be the harbinger of a genuine socio-economic change for the betterment of the common man and achievement of social justice §§§
Posted by I.M.Sharma at 9:14 AM