Asking government to take up electoral reforms in the coming session of Parliament, Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi has said the time has come to consider the Right to Reject proposal.
The CEC rejected the suggestion for state funding of elections, saying “this will only further add to the problem and not curb the use of money power in elections”.
“We hope the government will bring about the pending electoral reforms soon. Reform proposals should be taken very seriously in the coming session of Parliament… The EC’s authority needs to be strengthened,” he said.
Speaking at a panel discussion on electoral reforms in New Delhi on Sunday, Quraishi said “time has come for us to consider the Right to Reject proposal”, but said further discussion was required to prevent political parties from fielding criminal candidates in elections. Such a proposal was earlier also demanded by Team Anna.
Under this, voters will have the right to reject all the candidates in the fray if they find none to be suitable.
The CEC said a number of electoral reforms have been pending with the government and sought a beginning in this regard.
Turning down the idea of state funding, Quraishi said it will not help in curbing the use of black money in elections.He also rejected the idea of making voting compulsory as done in some countries like Australia.
“Voting cannot be made compulsory. In Australia too it is working hopelessly…It is practically impossible,” he said, adding that such a law could lead to crores of cases because the law has to be implemented properly.
Quraishi also sought more powers for EC to deregister political parties indulging in malpractices and also to fix the limit for money to be spent in elections.
The CEC also sought a ban on all political advertisements by incumbent governments six months ahead of elections.He also sought a ban on opinion polls ahead of polls, even though the exit polls have been banned as per law.
“If exit polls can be banned, so can opinion polls be…Just as paid news, we have been getting complaints about opinion polls being paid too,” he said.”There should also be a ban on any kind of advertisemen 48 hours before the polls to enable the voters to decide on their own. At present, print media is allowed to have advertisements. We want even print media ads by political parties and leaders should also be banned,” he added.
Quraishi also wanted restrictions to be imposed on door to door campaigning as it led to malpractices like exchange of money and liquor during personal contact by candidates.