Amid EVM row, UP’s left parties want change in electoral system
Amid the raging EVM controversy, the communist parties have initiated a new debate by demanding that the country switches over to the proportional representation system of elections from the current first-past-the-post system.lucknow Updated: Jan 11, 2018 16:38 IST
Amid the raging EVM controversy, the communist parties have initiated a new debate by demanding that the country switches over to the proportional representation (PR) system of elections from the current first-past-the-post (FPTP) system.
The demand for structural change in the electoral system was raised at the meeting of opposition parties called by former chief minister and Samajwadi Party chief, Akhilesh Yadav, on Saturday.
“We not only demand holding of all future elections through ballot papers but also demand replacement of the first-past-the-post system with the proportional representation one for fair representation to parties in proportion to their vote share,” said, Girish, state general secretary, Communist Party of India (CPI).
He said a hybrid system like one adopted in Nepal this time could also be tried in India by holding elections to some seats adopting the PR system and for some under the FPTP system.
The election commission of India, he demanded, must invite an all-party meet to discuss the issue.
In India, the FPTP system is used in Assembly and Parliamentary and other elections while the PR system is used to elect the President, vice-president etc.
In the FPTP system, a candidate who gets votes more than all other candidates is declared winner unlike under the PR system where candidates of a party are elected in proportion to the votes won by them.
The communist and other parties’ demand for the PR or the hybrid system, in fact, emanates from the fact of the BJP’s unstoppable march to power by winning more seats with less vote share. For example, in the UP Assembly elections last year, the BJP got 39% vote share but won 312 seats (more than 77%) while the SP with 21.8% votes ended up getting only 47 seats and the BSP with 22.2% got 19 seats.
“The opposition together got around 60% votes against the BJP’s 39% but the BJP got far more seats and formed the government while the 60% votes that went against the BJP became waste, thanks to the FPTP system,” Girish pointed out.
HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF
The demand for the PR system is, however, not entirely new. “This demand has been raised from time to time since 1952 because Left and other smaller parties, including the Jan Sangh, were then upset with the Congress like they are with the BJP now since the number of seats that Congress used to win were disproportionate to its vote share,” a noted political scientist, CP Bhambri told HT over phone from Delhi.
In 2017, the BJP almost replicated the Congress’ performance in 1980 when the latter won 309 seats with 39.6% votes while the BJP won 11 seats with 10.8% votes.
It is seen that the demand for holding polls through ballot papers and adopting PR electoral system are the examples of how history repeats itself. After BJP’s defeat in 2009 Lok Sabha polls it was LK Advani, BJP’s prime ministerial candidate who had raised a question mark over EVMs demanding introduction of ballot papers in future polls. Incidentally, some Left parties had backed Advani on the issue, then also.
Bhambri said both the FPTP and the PR systems had their own merits and demerits but the adoption of PR electoral system, he said would certainly provide more representation to smaller parties and minorities in proportion to their vote share. The FPTP system he said worked on winner-take-all principle and often did not represent the public mood.
Girish claimed all non-BJP parties supported the Left parties demand for adoption of the PR or hybrid electoral system to break the BJP’s dominance. “But they are not taking position on the issue like we do,” he regretted.