A close look at the happenings during the last couple of months stresses the need of urgent electoral reforms on the country. As we are at thethreshold of general elections, each and every political party in the country are virtually promising the moon to the voters.At the same time, foundation stones of various projects are being laidalong with inauguration of unfinished projects. This practice is not new to our country,every election we witness suchactivities. But on mostoccasions, people of the country are leftbroken as it has been often discovered that promises made in the run up to the elections were just an effort to divert the attention of the people from failures.
The NDA Government at the Centre laid the foundation stones of 157 projects during last one month. Various state governments have also indulged in such tricks apart from spending crores of rupees by releasing advertisements in the media. All these were done to beat the enforcement of Model Code of Conduct which bars any such activities. Did they think about the consequences of such activities? Keep aside the question of how the electorate would react to such tricks. But what can’t be overlooked is whether proper procedures were adopted before announcing these projects? Definitely not, as in India it takes months to get clearances for projects as the process involves various agencies. In such a situation how can the foundation stone of a thermal power station be laid within 72 hours of it getting cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA)? Clearly, proper procedures were not followed. All that propelled the said project on fast track is the thought that elections are coming and voters should be lured.
So, the Election Commission of India (ECI) should not remain a silent spectator any more. As one of the custodians of Indian democracy, ECI is duty-bound to curb such short cut ways to grab votes for current and future governments regardless of the party or coalition of parties. The Constitutional body should made it mandatory that Central and as well as state governments take clearances from ECI before announcing any projects. Such a restriction is needed as in the present scenario the Model Code Conduct appears to be toothless tiger. Development is an on-going process. It continues irrespective of change in government. So it should be ensured that notwithstanding which party is in power the announced development projects should go on smoothly. No obstacle should be allowed to derail the development process. In India, there is no dearth of foundation stones laid by one government and abandoned by the other. There are also examples that fund flow for many projects were stalled to prevent the opposition from taking credit.
This is why in recent times we have seen a circuit bench of Kolkata High Court in Jalpaiguri inaugurated twice within a span of two weeks. First the Prime Minister inaugurated it by flying down all the way from Delhi. Later the same was inaugurated once again in presence of Chief Justice of Kolkata High Court and the state Chief Minister. Both claimed credit for establishing the bench. The farce could easily be prevented if ECI had been little proactive. At the same time, it is duty of the electorate to teach leaders a lesson by exercising their democratic rights.