30 Oct 2011

Right to Recall: Step towards better governance or disorder?

Recently media's favourite Gandhi topi boy started off a discussion on electoral reforms. Yes I am talking about Mr. Anna Hazare who has enjoyed a lot more than the supposed 'fair-share' of the lime-light. He has talked about getting rid off corruption and also Congress to put it frankly. But now he has taken up the topic of electoral reforms. This topic as good as it may sound does not quite ring a bell with many people. There have been many attempts through out history to make elections better and fairer but most of them have failed and there are many reasons that can be attributed to this failure. But none of them would have managed to influence these reforms so much so that they end up being failures, unless and until they did not have people behind them.

Electoral Reforms basically aim at ensuring that the people get their 'money's worth'. Some of the electoral reforms that Mr. Hazare has been so overwhelmingly talking about are The Right to Recall and The Right to Reject. These rights have been tried out by many nations and in most of the cases, there has been a gross misuse of them. But why does it so happen? The reason is fairly simple to decipher. A democratic country functions on the simple concept of people choosing their representatives and ensuring that they work for them. My statement is ensured by elections which happen both for the purpose of electing representatives and also for throwing them out. History has repeatedly proven my latter statement to be true.

Governments have repeatedly fallen and so have representatives for the simple reason that their policies failed to bring about the result desired by the electorate. And that is how a democracy should and must function. So then what is Mr. Hazare trying to say by bringing up these issues of Right to Recall and Right to Reject. According to him, he would like the electorate to enjoy the option of having a Right to Recall. What is Right to Recall? Right to Recall is a constitutional right that can be given to citizens of an electorate so as to recall their representative and hold a new election to elect a new representative. In short it is basically removing a representative from office before the regular elections and then holding an election to get a new representative.

It is done by holding a signature campaign/election of sorts where in if around 30% (number varies, it is 5% in some countries) of the people sign the campaign to recall the minister than a new election is held and in this new election, the people have the option of either continuing with the present minister or voting for someone new. Thus in short it is a long and tiresome process and not to leave out the expenses part of it. A process like this though is called the epitome of democracy is meant for developed countries with adequate funds to spare and an electorate which is educated in political matters and thus not influenced a lot by ideological leanings, religion, place etc.

Electoral exercises like these should only be seen as a very distant dream in a country like ours for the simple reason that we haven't reduced poverty to below 5%. It is amusing to see people talk about this exercise with such fervor while at the same time it is this group of people who strong arm the government on issues of inflation, which is affecting the poor sections of society terribly, and poverty which according to them is simple an example of the government failing to do what it was meant to do.

Hence with so many problems like inflation and poverty already in front of us, it would only be a Koalemos' dream to have such a huge project implemented in India without even understanding and taking care of various other problems like poverty and a politically illiterate majority. Thus this is nothing but a desire to ape the west (a term that I am personally against) without taking an appropriate look at the real situations that affect the electorate in their daily routine.