Dynasties have a monopoly on candidature in India: former CEC

"In India, you got a complete monopoly of candidature by people who are part of the political dynasties, people who are cronies to those dynasties, people who are in a way representatives of the private sector, money bags and preferably criminal money bags. These are the people from whom candidates in this country are chosen," the former CEC said.

Speaking at a session on 'free and fair elections' at the Commonwealth Law Conference that concluded here, he said open competition for leadership and selection of candidates in a political party are some pre-conditions for the legitimacy of an elected government which is lacking in India and elsewhere in the world too.

"There are other pre-conditions for the legitimacy of an elected government which neither obtained in India nor indeed in the Western democracies. The foremost are open, transparent competition for leadership in a political party and the selection of candidates," he said.

He wondered how a democracy can be considered to be free and fair if there is no freedom with regard to selection of candidates.

"Now, I don't understand how a democracy can be fair and free if there is freedom only with regard to voters. There has to be and more importantly some freedom with regard to candidates. There has to be competitiveness about the selection of candidates, which does not exist in this country.

"You may be a brilliant professor in the best university in this country, you don't have a bloody chance, unless you belong to one of these categories," he said.

The influence of money power is another important matter for concern and Andhra Pradesh is the most notorious state in the country for the amount of money spent in elections, he said.

"Money, there is no way unless you change the system. If you have proportional representation, then it is only parties competing, not candidates. Money comes in mainly because of individual candidates. If you don't have candidates, you have only lists, then one party against the other. So much money is not going to be spent," he said.

According to Lyngdoh, appointing independent observers at the time of internal party elections may be of some use in ensuring free and fair selection of candidates.
Replying to a query, he said proportional representation is the "right thing in the long run".

The attitude of questioning and insisting on rights and awareness on public affairs are still lacking in the country, he said.


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