Proportional Electoral System is Needed: Former CEC

Tulasidas

FORMER Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi has favoured implementation of proportional representation as compared to the present ‘first past the post’ voting system. Even neighbouring countries such as Nepal and Sri Lanka and Germany are successfully implementing the proportional representation system. Quraishi was addressing a seminar on ‘Electoral Reforms in India’, organised by Prajasakti Sahiti Samstha as part of valedictory of Moturu Hanumantha Rao birth centenary celebrations on October 4 in Vijayawada. He commended the services of late Hanumantha Rao, the founder Editor of ‘Prajasakti’ and veteran Marxist.

Quraishi in his speech narrated the voluminous electoral process in India and hailed the constitutional provisions. He highlighted that while the USA took 144 years and the UK about a century to give voting rights to women, India gave that from day one. He explained in detail about the process that has evolved in the past six decades in conducting free and fair elections. He narrated the efforts of election machinery for maintaining neutrality and evolution of model code of conduct etc. However, he categorically said that the present ‘first past the post’ electoral system has to be changed. Explaining the need for proportional representation, Quraishi said there was no relation between the number of votes polled and seats won. For instance, in Uttar Pradesh, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) secured 20 per cent votes but did not bag any seat in an election. Had there been the proportional representation, voice of such parties can also be heard, he said.

On a question about simultaneous polls, he replied that it has pros and cons. Corruption, money power in elections, communal and caste conflicts such as ‘love jihad’ and cow slaughter that take place just before elections can be avoided, he said. “Constitutional amendment is almost impossible without political consensus. Let there be a debate. If it happens well and good, else we will continue with the present system,” Quraishi said. Strongly supporting the use of EVMs, the former CEC said that EVMs were introduced in 1982 on a pilot basis and have been in use successfully all these years. The machines were not connected to any device. Simple calculator technology was used.

Moturu Hanumantha Rao was the founder editor of ‘Prajasakti’. He was the state secretary of CPI(M) from 1964 to 1981 and served as a Central Committee member and later as a Polit Bureau member. He was elected to the AP legislature and also to the Rajya Sabha. Prajasakti Sahitee Samstha conducted year-long centenary celebrations and this programme was the culmination. The seminar was chaired by MVS Sarma, Editor, ‘Prajasakti’, and K S Lakshmana Rao, former MLC, was the guest of honour. Four books on M Hanumantha Rao were released in the function.

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