Governance · Law · Politics · Public Policy

Delhi Elections: Shenanigans et al?

Democracy cannot succeed unless who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely.

 – Franklin D. Roosevelt

India is one of the largest democratic countries in the world. The word Democracy originates from two Greek words i.e., Demons (people) and Kartia(rule). In a literal sense, it means rule of people. The Constitution  of India provides for Democratic Republic . India has a representative democracy, where people elect their representatives once in five years to make laws and policies on their behalf. Democratic government encompasses social, economic and cultural conditions that enable the free and equal practice of political self-determination.

The Constitution of India has adopted the system of Universal Adult Suffrage to secure political justice. Vote is a powerful weapon in the hands of the citizens to elect their representatives. Right to vote is also provided under ‘Representation of Peoples Act, 1951.’ It provides –

No person who is not, and expect as expressly provided by this Act, every person who is, for the time being entered in the electoral of the constituency shall be entitled to vote in that democracy.” Since the elections are the life blood of democratic procedure, it is only by voting those democratic principles are protected.

Delhi, being a union territory and the capital of India always draws a special attention in its legislative elections by the people of India and the other. Elections in every state of India, including Delhi are conducted in accordance with the constitution of India. The Assembly of Delhi creates laws regarding the conduct of local body  elections unilaterally while any changes by the state legislature to the conduct of state level elections need to be approved by the parliament of India. In addition, the state legislature may be dismissed by the parliament of India according to Article 356 of the Indian constitution and President’ rule may be imposed. (Article 356 deals with the failure of the constitutional machinery of an Indian state).

In the history of Delhi elections, past three years have marked drastic changes in the political platforms contested in Delhi Legislative Elections, 2013. Aam Aadmi Party(AAP) leader and Magsaysay awardee Arvind Kejriwal contested from AAP, where  ‘Harsha Vardhan’ was the candidate of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Sheila Dixit ( the then Chief Minister of Delhi) was the candidate of Indian National Congress (INC) who contested in Delhi Legislative Elections of 2013.

Out of the 70 seats in the Delhi State Legislative Assembly, Bharatiya Janata Party along with its alliance party Shiromani Akali Dal has emerged as the single largest party winning 32 seats in plurality. However, BJP fell short of an outright majority and were unable to form the government. This led the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi Najeeb Jung to invite AAP, the second largest party after the BJP, to attempt to form a government. On 28th December, 2013, AAP formed a government after taking outside support from the Indian National Congress.

AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal, who defeated outgoing Chief Minister Sheila Dixit, became Chief Minister of Delhi. However, this government only lasted for 49 days. Kejriwal resigned as chief minister following the failure of the introduction of Delhi’s Jan Lokpal Bill and Swaraj Bill in the Assembly on 14th February, 2014. President’s Rule was then imposed and the Assembly was kept in suspended animation.

All the leaders of BJP, AAP and Congress expressed their inability to form a government and desire for fresh elections. On the recommendations of Najeeb Jung, the Union Cabinet recommended the dissolution of Assembly and fresh elections on 4th November, 2014. And as a result, the Election Commission of India on 12th January, 2015 has announced that ‘State Assembly’ elections would be held on 7th February, 2015 with results being announced on 10th February, 2015. This time the contestants in the Elections are Arvind Kejriwal from AAP remains same however, BJP has announced their CM candidate as Kiran Bedi (prominent women activist, follower of Anna Hazare and works for the eradication of corruption) and Indian National Congress (INC) has announced Ajay Maken as their Chief Minister Candidate.

All the three major parties apart of the independent contestants started campaigning for the upcoming elections in Delhi. AAP has started its campaigning from November, 2014 by Kejriwal by his statement ‘Paise Sabse Lelo Par Vote Hame Debo’. This statement has brought earlier too in 2013 elections campaign. Hence, Election Commission of India issued not for ‘breaking the model code of conduct for elections in India’ to Kejriwal. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has inaugurated the elections campaign from Ramleela Maidan on January 10th , 2015 where Kiran Bedi being the CM candidate. Ajay Maidan, INC’s chief minister’s candidate started campaigning from 13th January, 2015. He has also released a booklet titled “49 dino ki ultee chaal, Dilli hui behal” listing Kejriwal’s misgovernance during his 49-day government.

As far as these Delhi elections are concerned, opinions, surveys, polls and predictions have been increased. It might be because of the new and political party AAP or because of the BJP’s CM candidate Kiran Bedi. Whoever may be the upcoming chief minister of Delhi, we have to hope that they become balanced, tolerant statesman and political scientists finding long lasting remedies to the socially, politically, economically and culturally diverse predicaments of the common man.

25th of January, is being observed as ‘National Voters Day’ in India. This day got its special status last year, which marked the Diamond Jubilee of Election Commission of India. Now a days youth were’ literate and enlightened’ and ‘ lowering of voting age’ would help to present their feelings and help them become part of political process. This led to official lowering of age from 21 years to 18 years, through the Constitution (sixty-first) Amendment Bill, 1988. The time has come to recommit ourselves to a deeper and more participatory democracy, a democracy with greater alignment between public policy and people’s interest. The actual democracy prevails when people’s interests are being protected and secured in a country.

About the Author

Surya SriSurya Sri is a final year student of NBM Law College, Visakhapatnam. She is determined to serve the nation and has an inclination towards Civil Services and is currently preparing for the same. She has pursued studies related to Human Rights and Criminology. She has keen interest in the fields of Public Policy and International affairs. She enjoys public speaking on social issues. Her other interests range from debating and researching on new aspects to interacting with people and being actively involved in community development. Her hobbies include listening to music, travelling and photography.

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