Avoid by-elections and stop wasteful expenditure

G.S. Vijay Kumar By G.S. Vijay Kumar, 3rd Apr 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Columns & Opinions

By-elections cost several crores of money and should be held only in case of death of sitting candidates or some extreme exigencies. Besides, this also allows the party to bring in candidates for the highest office through the back door which is not correct. Additionally and more importantly, doesn’t this amount to a fraud on the electorates who would have voted for a particular candidate in the election held earlier?

Avoid by-elections and stop wasteful expenditure

By-elections cost several crores of money and should be held only in case of death of sitting candidates or some extreme exigencies.

The Congress party has finally zeroed in on Mr. Vijay Bahuguna, son of the late Shri Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna the erstwhile Chief Minister of the undivided Uttar Pradesh, for the position of Chief Minister of Uttarakhand. Mr. Vijay Bahuguna is a member of parliament from Tehri Garhwal constituency of Uttarakhand and did not contest the assembly election held in February 2012. Similarly, Akhilesh Yadav, a member of the Lok Sabha from Kannauj parliamentary constituency of Uttar Pradesh, also did not contest the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections held recently but the Samajwadi party has elected him as the new Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh.
As per the provisions of our Constitution, a Chief Minister should be a member of the state legislature, either the assembly or the council, and in case an elected Chief Minister is not a member of the state legislature, then he/ she must become a member of either house of the legislature within six months from the date of assuming office. In other words, Messrs Vijay Bahuguna as well as Akhilesh Yadav will have to contest the election and become members of the legislature within six months in order to continue in office.

What does this mean to the government and the exchequer?

This means, some elected member of the legislature has to resign from his/her seat and make it available for Akhilesh Yadav or Vijay Bahuguna to contest. Messrs Vijay Bahuguna and Akhilesh Yadav will have to contest for the respective assembly seats from Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh and if they win, which in all likelihood they will, will have to vacate their respective Lok Sabha seats. The government has to conduct two by-elections each in Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh respectively, one for the Lok Sabha seats vacated by Vijay Bahuguna/ Akhilesh Yadav and another for the state assembly for Vijay Bahuguna/ Akhilesh Yadav to contest. This would lead to an additional expenditure of several crores of rupees to the state government which could have been strictly avoided. Besides, this also allows the party to bring in candidates for the highest office through the back door which is not correct. Additionally and more importantly, doesn’t this amount to a fraud on the electorates who would have voted for a particular candidate in the election held earlier? If the Congress party or Vijay Bahuguna was interested in leading the state, he should have contested the election. One fails to understand the logic in not contesting the election and then assuming the office once the results are declared.
It is true that the constitution provides for such practices. We have had any number of such cases in the past across all states and this continues to be practiced even to this day. The Election Commission should put an end to this practice and by-elections should be held only in cases of death of sitting members or any such extreme exigencies. As a practice, all ministers should be chosen only if they are legislators of either house or members of parliament in the case of centre.
Each by-election costs crores of money and therefore a conscious attempt should be made by all concerned to avoid such wasteful expenditure. It also puts a huge burden on the election commission to conduct polls. The election commission incurs huge expenses on deployment of security personnel and polling staff, setting up polling stations and a whole host of related activities. The political parties will be doing a great service to the election commission as they could then use that time and energy for attending to more pressing and important work.
There are reports that Akhilesh Yadav may seek election to the state’s legislative council instead of the legislative assembly. This may be a shade better than contesting an assembly election but should also be avoided strictly. Any entry through the back door amounts to betraying the electorates and is harmful for democracy. The election commission should take it up with all political parties and impress upon them to do away with this practice of holding by-elections.
By-elections, whether to the assembly or parliament, should be strictly avoided and held only in case of deaths of sitting members or such extreme exigencies.

G.S. Vijay Kumar is a senior corporate executive and a columnist.


Tags

Akhilesh Yadav, Assembly Elections, By-Elections, Congress Party, Elections, India, Indian Elections, Politics, Samajwadi Party, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Vijay Bahuguna

Meet the author

author avatar G.S. Vijay Kumar
I am a management graduate and have worked as a senior executive for 25 years in the corporate sector.I am a columnist and write on management, Economics and socio-economic topics.

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