Only two parties in Indian parliament? Possible.

MLAs from BJP have ‘rebelled’; opposition is demanding a ‘no-confidence’ motion. The rebel MLAs are holed up in Goa for past few days. I believe the going rate for either camp to get each MLA’s support is Rs.40 crores!

This is the third time in the past 4 years such tamasha has taken place in Karnataka.  Similar circus went on for several months in Jharkhand recently.

It sure is a tragedy that this is happening.  But a bigger tragedy is that we have accepted it. We talk about it as a joke; laugh, and then go back to our daily lives. The media too does it bit of shouting, then moves onto new a       story. This is exactly what the parliamentarians want. They want us to mind our own business while they go about their dhanda of enriching themselves.

Will we ever see an end to such politics in our lifetimes? Or in our children’s lifetime for that matter?

Like you, I too have been searching for an answer for a while. It struck me, this morning, that there is something we can do to at least to stop coalition governments from forming!

Coalition government is a democracy’s greatest tragedy. It prevents a focused government from working, erodes accountability and worst of all, muddles-up election results. Just look at Sharad Pawar, Praful Patel and NCP. Or Karunanidhi and his son and daughter and telecom minister Raja. Or Lalu Yadav. How a handful of these coalition member the hold the government to ransom?

If we can have a simple two-party government, we would at last see some stability in governance. We may even end up having a stable and strong opposition. Both will reduce colossal waste of election expenses, both by government and candidates.

I’ve borrowed the idea from sports field. Not surprising, considering the constant public denunciation of roles played by politicians in preparing India to host the Common Wealth Games!

Here’s the idea:

In every sport, we have several rounds of games to eliminate the weak players or teams. On the positive side, the rounds ensure that the best make it to the final. A final between the top and the second seed not only provides ultimate thrill, but also ensures that the best guy takes it all. The loser too gains in the long run as well – prestige, prize money and future opportunities.

Let’s elect a government through a two round election process. In round 1, people will vote for parties, not candidates. The results are compiled to pick the two parties that get maximum percentage of votes. These two parties now field candidates across the state or country. Second round of polling takes place. And presto: we have a clear winner!

The greatest gain: the winning party can now function productively without having to appease people like Pawar and Lalu. As people, we can evaluate the government’s performance clearly against the promises made.

Second gain is that the opposition now has role to play. A single party can speak in a single voice, and demand accountability.

Third: the riff-raffs and trouble makers fall by the side. So parliament can function smoothly – no walkouts, fist-fights and ‘parliament rage’.

Fourth: the system is the fairest it can get, throwing up the most popular (by that logic the best) man to govern us. This is the best that’s possible in the circumstances.

There is one big flaw though: Some very competent politicians representing smaller parties or contesting independently maybe left behind. This will make us function without their able and helpful advice.

We can reserve 10% seats for independents. These seats are not contested by the two main contenders.

There is second flaw. The two-round system doesn’t prevent ‘rebel’ activity – the very reason that weakens the current system, forcing us to explore alternatives?

Solution: Ban dissidence. If anyone is unhappy, he or she may be welcome to simply resign, and the seat can then stay vacant till completion of the parliament term.

Flaw 3: Won’t this increase the election expenditure?

Yes it certainly will. But this maybe more than compensated by lower election expenses by parties as there’ll be no individual candidates in round 1 and only two parties in round 2.

Last flaw I see is: longer duration required to hold elections.

I think it may well be worth living with this flaw than to have fractured verdict or unstable government. Both these lead to unfair MP/MLA pricing, resulting in inflow of illegal money from vested industrialists or businessmen. The illegal money generates more illegal money as the politicians in power now  have to return this money to these ‘Samaritans’ by offering them plum contracts. Thus, perpetuating the vicious circle of politician-business nexus.

Let’s get real. Coalitions have become commonplace, so have three-four parties in each state. two rounds of election would perhaps be the easiest way to break the norm, without actually upsetting our democratic set-up.

What do you think? I look forward to hearing your views.

7 Comments

  1. Nag Raj said:

    Raj, When you have accepted the fact that, “the relevance of representation for a common man, though noble in itself, has finally boiled down to using the influence of MP/MLA to curry favours – school/college admission, job, contract, etc.” it has become apparent that the system has failed, not only because of bad representatives getting elected but also due to the fact that the voter is as bad in choosing and electing such a representative. When I call them bad voters, I am not just questioning their intention but also their qualification as voters. When a man is not good enough to decide what is good for him, how can he decide what is good for the overall good of the nation?

    The common argument that, in a Democracy you get the kind of Government you deserve, doesn’t apply in case of country like India.

    Democracy in India is Hypocrisy so far as right to Franchise is concerned. With so much of poverty, ignorance, illiteracy, exploitation over the ages of the majority of the population within the society and/or by outside invaders the ability to think rationally and decide a leader by the majority voter is too much asking. We are a nation highly subjected to “Slave mentality” and submission has become our first habit.

    Now, how to counter this?

    We can either rethink as to what will make a person eligible to stand for election and also vote in an election. We already have it. A person needs to be of 18 years and above to franchise his vote. To this if we add a minimum education qualification and a certain income / employment level to make them eligible for Franchise, whets wrong?

    As I type this, I am also watching the television and the news reads “spurious liquor kill …. in Panachayat election. Now, this is one reason why we need this additional clause of Income while deciding the voter eligibility along with educational qualification to participate as a voter in an election.

    The “have nots” and “won’t haves” can not be part of the electoral collage, however bad it may sound. The simple reason being, if you are not good enough to earn a simple living, you are not good enough to decide who leads you. Unless we call a “Spade a Spade” we can not move forward. If we try being just to all, we end up being just to none and more so unfair towards the ones that I am suggesting not to be included.

    So, for a fair chance of fairly good governance we need both Good Representatives and Good Voters.

    If it doesn’t happen any sooner then the need of the hour is to Flag the March and a Revolution followed by Authoritarianism will remain the last of the least option.

    Authoritarianism is a form of social organization characterized by submission to authority. It is opposed to individualism and democracy. In politics, an authoritarian government is one in which political power is concentrated in a leader or leaders, typically unelected by the people, who possess exclusive, unaccountable, and arbitrary power.

    In India, what is more relevant today is Equality in true spirits rather than Liberty.

    Once you achieve a level of Equality, you can give way to Liberty.

    I hope, I will get a vote for my views.

    ;/O))

    October 22, 2010
  2. Raj Bhatia said:

    Dear Nagu,

    While your points are valid, I’m looking at it from a different angle.

    First, the current system is not working despite having proper representation. It needs to be fixed.

    Second, the best guys are not leading the government. Division of vote invariably throws the best guy out or makes him or her compromise his or her position. Example: Though Rajiv Gandhi wasn’t the best guy in business, he was the last PM to have a strong mandate. This allowed him to make sweeping changes, many of which laid foundation for what India is today. The same was the case with Chandra Babu Naidu in AP and S M Krishna in Karnataka.

    Third, the relevance of representation for a common man, though noble in itself, has finally boiled down to using the influence of MP/MLA to curry favours – school/college admission, job, contract, etc.

    In the end, I believe, we’ll be better-off with fewer people who mean and do good, irrespective of where they come from. (Good example is Nandan Nilekani and his work on UIDAI project). After all, all the problems afflicting India are well-known. What we need is action from our representatives, and we need to ensure that they can go about it without having to appease or posture. For example, for the past three weeks now, most MLAs in Karnataka are only spending time in resorts as they wait for winning bids on them!

    Raj

    October 21, 2010
  3. Nag Raj said:

    Two Party Election System (TPES): Neither possible nor fair.

    India is a widely polarized nation with so many castes, class, region, religion, language and many other way we divide ourselves.

    A TPES would mean that the party representing the majority caste, class, religion or language may have a clear majority over the other or…… only that member of the caste, class, religion or language will be given a seat to contest from that region who belongs to the majority, making it unfair on the rest of the other groups.

    Each group, if it so wishes can field it’s own choice of candidates, this not only puts a dent on vote banks but makes it fair also. Like the BSP when it fields a candidate in Delhi, the message is very clear, they are not out there to win their seat, they want the Congress to loose their claim on the Dalit vote bank.

    Mayawati played her cards right by fielding a combination of Dalit – Brahmin combine in UP and confused the voters and came to power leaving everyone guessing and crying foul.

    Yes, there is a scope for improvement in the Indian Polity and it can take a different shape. Without putting the restriction of Two Party, lets’ have a multi Party Election in which there will be declared candidates from both the Parties, without any indication of their constituency.

    Let the people Vote the Party of their choice, instead of candidates…..it is only then the Party Manifesto will make any sense. People are virtually voting for the Manifesto or the Promise.

    Based on the results, the parties can choose who will fill the elected slots, it can be through internal democracy or brick batting, that’s their choice. The people have chosen their party and the majority party will form the Govt. Let us keep this present coalition too, why not.

    The only good thing that will come out of this kind of election is that… Every party will be careful as to who they select and project as one of their prospective candidates. The face of the Party. All the Big Bosses, Dons and Mafia Rajs will be kept out. They will not be in a position to influence their position in the party nor influence the vote. When people weigh one party with the other they will look at all the names and face of the candidates represented in each party and their Party choice will come from the goodness of the choice of each party. Of course, perception about good and bad will always differ but in case will any Raju Bhaiya or D.P. Yadav find their faces in this pre announced list of Party candidate?? I think Not.

    My daughter is asking me what difference will the Party system make…….. yes, it will make a difference. A Party in which there will be a D.P. Yadav will outright get a rejection from me, no matter who the next best person in their list is. We can dare any D.P. Yadav or Raju Bhaiya in a New Delhi constituency not in UP or Bihar where they know how to capture the booth and elect themselves. So, every Party that is rational will be choosy as to their candidates and it will surely be a cleaner lot, comparatively.

    Cleaner in the sense…… not “tainted and winnable” but “honest but not winnable” lot.

    October 21, 2010
  4. Girish Menon said:

    Wish we have a system to recover the financial loss due to non-functioning of parliament / assembly. Like: a member who disrupts functioning of the house will have to pay the cost of operation of the house. A percentage of cost also to be borne by other members from to his party. Apart from this, he/she should not be allowed to attend the house for rest of its term. The salary and perks payable to elected members should be based on their attendance in the house.

    October 13, 2010
  5. Raj Bhatia said:

    You are right Kiran.However, as common men, we cannot just sit back and let the politician go about their business? After all, that’s exactly what they want.

    Thanks, Raj

    October 12, 2010
  6. Kiran M K said:

    Sirji..what next? President rule? One more election? Ultimately, WE have to suffer the cost…more over, I am worried about the loss of so much of productive time from our Representatives who are chosen for their contribution to society. Yes, I agree, we should not just keep quite…but, what a common man can do?

    October 12, 2010
  7. Navneet Bakshi said:

    Possible framework to implement the 2 phase process
    1. Official website for registering nomination. All PAN Card holderscan vote. Alternatively:Mobile Number + DoB to form set of unique identification

    2.SMS based polls worked out on prime time television.India is now used to SMS/Vote out best of contestants from all reality shows!

    3. Party website to shortlist candidates via polls. SMSE engine with short codes through mobile phones

    4. Final nomination declaration by election commission of India.

    5. Elections for2 parties and select candidates

    October 10, 2010

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

IMPORTANT! To be able to proceed, you need to solve the following simple math (so we know that you are a human) :-)

What is 6 + 13 ?
Please leave these two fields as-is: