'India's number of MPs low compared to our population'
Now the push for strong electoral reforms has come from our Constitutional Head of State — President Pranab Mukherjee. Advocating the need for electoral reforms to strengthen the democratic process, Mukherjee said, "It is time to look at legal provisions for increasing the number of parliamentary seats."
Mukherjee also said that in the existing Indian parliamentary system, though political parties with less numbers of seats enjoy equal rights and authority with the party in power, they have "no responsibility". He said that it is necessary to undertake a "dispassionate analysis of the way in which our electoral process is functioning with a view to address the shortcomings in the system".
"The system of parliamentary governance is such that if somebody gets 51 (majority) out of 100, 51 has all the rights and authority and in our electoral process, less than 51 have all the rights and authorities but no responsibility."
Elaborating the need for electoral reforms, the president said, "Freeze on the population figure was imposed in 1976 which has been extended till 2026 by an Act in 2001 due to which Parliament today represents the figure of 1971 census whereas same has increased manifold."
"The Constitution (42nd Amendment) Act 1976 imposed a freeze on the population figure for readjustment at the 1971 census and has been extended by the Constitution (Eighty-fourth Amendment) Act 2001 till 2026. As a result the House of the People today represents the population figure of 1971 census whereas our population has increased manifold in the recent decades," he said while speaking at a seminar on economic reforms with reference to electoral issues.
The president said, "This gives rise to an anomalous situation wherein today, India has over 800 million voters and 543 Lok Sabha constituencies represent 1.28 billion people. To give true expression to the will of the people, it is time that we look at the legal provisions on the delimitation of the Parliamentary constituencies with a view to increase their number." "If Great Britain can have more than 600 Parliamentary constituencies, why can't India, with a much higher population, have more number of seats?" the President said.
Hold political parties accountable for breaking poll vows: CJI
Electoral promises routinely remain unfulfilled and manifestos turn out to be mere pieces of paper, for which political parties must be held accountable, Chief Justice of India J S Khehar said on Saturday. "Nowadays manifestos have become a mere piece of paper, for this political parties have to be made accountable," the CJI said at a seminar titled 'Economic Reforms with Reference to Electoral issues'.
The CJI, speaking in the presence of President Pranab Mukherjee, said political parties give "brazen" excuses like lack of consensus amongst their members to justify non- fulfilment of their poll promises. He said that manifestos remain pieces of paper due to short term memory of citizens but political parties must be held accountable. On the manifestos released by parties during the 2014 polls, the CJI said none of them indicated any link between electoral reforms and Constitutional goal of economic-social justice to the marginalised section.