State-funded polls inevitable: Former CEC

Former Chief Election Commissioner of India (CEC) N Gopal­a­swamy, on Thursday, said a system of State-funded elections has become inevitable in the country, which has become a victim of the ill-effects money power in elections.

Delivering a lecture on the need for electoral reforms at Gokhale Institute of Public Affairs here, he said: “There needs to be a comprehensive system to curb money power in elections. Elections must be funded by the State to achieve this.” Stating the government can create a National Election Fund, using which, candidates can be funded, he said: “Any candidate garnering a vote percentage of less than five per cent should be asked to return the money.

Such a system should consist elections to various State government assemblies and Lok Sabha together and that the current law of electing a winner must be amended.
“No candidate who fails to get 51 per cent of votes should be elected. If there is no clear majority the first time then a run-off election must be held for the top two candidates,” he said, adding that one third of seats must be reserved for women.

He also said India should introduce the proportional representation (PR) system, emulating some of the western countries and that we should do away with the present system.

“In the present system even if a party has not garnered a good vote share, they end up forming the government. In Karnataka elections, for instance, I am told that the Congress’ vote share increased only by two per cent, but the number of seats they won has increased by 50 per cent to 120 from 80 in 2008 elections,” he said.

Touching upon various issues like paid news, criminal backgrounds of candidates and the reluctance of politicians to bring in any reforms, he called upon the people to become more pro-active.

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