Indian Politicians Shall Not Be Allowed To Contest From More Than One Constituency

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One Political Candidate, Only One Constituency

One leader, one constituency should be a principle in electoral politics.

Can there be any rationale for allowing one candidate to contest from two constituencies? A prudent answer should be: none. Generally, prime ministerial or chief ministerial candidates do it as a safety measure. To be elected, they need to win one out of the two constituencies. However, if they win both, they need to resign from one, which forces a by-election.

Many top political leaders in India often contest from two constituencies as a legitimate game plan.

The existing law

Under section 33 of the Representation of People Act, 1951, a person is allowed to contest polls, whether a general election, more than one by-elections or biennial elections, from a maximum of two seats. Before this law, candidates could run in any number of constituencies.

Serious implication on tax payers money

The provision of allowing a candidate to contest from multiple seats is an absurd one. The absurdity is pronounced further when sitting members of the legislative assembly or the Rajya Sabha contest for the Lok Sabha or vice versa. There are innumerable examples in India where leaders holding the post of MLA/ MP have contested for another election. Upon winning, they surrendered their posts for re-election. Re-elections cost money.

According to government records, in the 2009 Lok Sabha election, the per-constituency cost for conducting the poll was Rs 2-3 crore. The estimates for this year’s Lok Sabha elections are approximately Rs 5 crore per constituency. By-elections cost more; unlike general elections, they don’t have the economic advantages of scale.

Why this practice should stop NOW

What happens when a politician wins both seats?

In such a situation, they must vacate one within 10 days, triggering a by-election, as stated under section 70 of the Representation of the People Act. It is unfair to the people of one constituency if the candidate chooses his membership in favour of the other constituency. Secondly, it involves unnecessary cost.

Political and constitutional experts, however, say the provision is irrational.

Subhash C. Kashyap, historian and former secretary-general of the Lok Sabha, India’s lower house of Parliament, said that the provision simply allowed leaders to misuse the electoral system.

“It doesn’t serve any useful purpose. What it does is allow candidates to cover political risks by falling back upon a constituency if they are to lose the election to a seat,” Mr. Kashyap said.

Sanjay Kumar, fellow at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies in New Delhi, said allowing candidates to stand from more than one constituency was a “drain on the exchequer” and the electorate since people were compelled to participate in an unwarranted and forced by-election.

But apart from money, it is a waste of time for lakhs of voters. It is also not fair to upcoming leaders, who have to vacate space to so that the bigger leaders can get their second seats.

Former Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, EM Sudarsana Natchiappan, says, “The person contesting in two constituencies does that knowing well that he has to vacate one seat if he wins in both seats. Such a practice unnecessarily disturbs the democratic process by not allowing another person getting elected from the other constituency. The taxpayer’s money is unnecessarily spent.”

So, there can be no rationale in allowing a candidate to file nominations from more than one constituency.

I would urge every Indian citizen, youths of India, every legitimate voters of this country, and above all the Election Commission of India, Supreme Court of India and Chief Justice of India to take this issue seriously for the sake of our democracy and consider implementing a law to stop this unfair practice.

I would request everyone who is reading this message/campaign to share this message as much as possible so that it becomes a mass movement.    

 

 



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