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EC not in favour of Team Anna's poll reform proposals

November 01, 2011 19:34 IST

The Election Commission has virtually disfavoured Team Anna's electoral reform proposals saying its demand for 'Right to Recall' will bring instability while 'Right to Reject' will lead to more frequent elections.

This was conveyed to Team Anna members led by Shanti Bhushan on Monday when they met Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi and other members V S Sampath and H S Brahma to discuss electoral reforms.

Hazare had announced in August when he called off his fast for a strong Lokpal that his next fight will be for implementing 'Right to Recall' and 'Right to Reject'.

During the discussions, an official statement said, Quraishi told the delegation that Right to Recall elected representatives would "bring instability" as the losers could start such a campaign from day one.

On Right to Reject, the commission was of the view that an amendment was needed in the Representation of the People Act 1951, a view countered by Team Anna which claims that it can be done through an administrative order.

The statement comes in the wake of claims reportedly made by activist Arvind Kejriwal that the commission had accepted their demand for making changes in rules to provide for 'Right to Reject' option during elections.

Quraishi told Team Anna that when implemented, 'Right to Recall would also hamper development activities because of "frequent elections" and imposition of model code of conduct too often.

He said there were various implications involved like the minimum percentage of voters who may file the petition for recall, verification of authenticity of thousands of signatures and whether those signatures have been given voluntarily or under coercion.

Team Anna agreed that the matter needed to be further examined by them keeping all the above implications in mind.

On the demand for 'Right to Reject', the statement said the commission informed the delegation that it had already proposed to the government in December 2001 to make a suitable provision in the rules to introduce a button in the balloting unit of the Electronic Voting Machine so that electors could exercise 'none of the above' option.

"The commission pointed out that 'Right to Reject' may
lead to more frequent elections," the statement said adding Team Anna disagreed saying it will act as a deterrent on parties to sponsor more worthy candidates and will also help in curbing muscle and money power.

Quraishi also told the delegation that the demand for 'Right to Reject' would only have an impact if the voting percentages were really high.

Team Anna was of the view that if the 'Right to Reject' was provided for in law, then it would also have a salutary effect on the political parties, the statement said.

"What is the use of exercising this right if half of the voters do not turn up for voting? The commission mentioned that the matter is also before the Supreme Court," the statement said.

He also requested civil society groups to extend support to the ongoing efforts of the commission to enhance voters' participation in elections and strengthen democracy.

The delegates assured the Commission that they would campaign for higher public participation in the electoral process.

When the delegation expressed concern over the growing criminalisation of politics, the commission informed them that a proposal for debarring candidates, against whom charges have been framed by the court of law for heinous crimes, from contesting elections has already been sent to the government way back in 1998. This is at an "advanced stage" of consideration by the government.

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