Terming the system of appointing election commissioners “flawed”, former chief election commissioner (CEC) SY Quraishi has said India is perhaps the only democracy where appointments to the election watchdog are made by the government.
He said for many other constitutional posts, such as information commissioners, the leader of Opposition is a signatory to the appointments. “It will make the appointment more credible if the leader of Opposition or a collegium appoints the election commissioners. It was painful to hear allegations that I was closer to the Congress as I was appointed by the UPA government. As a result, I was harsher to the party,” Quraishi said at a round-table discussion on ‘Simultaneous parliamentary and state elections’ at the Institute for Development and Communication (IDC) here on Saturday.
He said former PM Manmohan Singh was contemplating to usher in the much-needed reform, but it couldn’t be done.
“Though it will result in substantial drop in expenditure, time and inconvenience to citizens, there is need for modification of policy and logistical framework. The EC will require five times the paramilitary forces. So, instead of 700-800 companies, the EC will need 3,500 companies and three-times the EVMs. It is difficult, near impossible. The logic of simultaneous elections must extend also to panchayat and municipalities,” he said.
He said there was need for state funding of political parties (not elections) and all private, corporate donations should be banned.
Pramod Kumar, chairperson, Punjab Governance Reforms Commission (PGRC) and director, IDC, said whenever a House was dissolved, the elections should be held to elect representatives for the remaining term.
Others who attended the roundtable included former governor of Manipur
Gurbachan Jagat, Right to Service Commission chairman Subodh Agrawal, editor-in-chief of The Tribune group of publications Harish Khare, former chief information commissioner RI Singh, Ashutosh Kumar, Manjit Singh, Harish Puri, BS Ghuman, PS Verma and SL Sharma.