Friday, March 14, 2014

Stray Thoughts on Elections

Stray Thoughts on Elections 

By Zubair Ahmed

Andaman and Nicobar Islands is one constituency among the 543 Lok Sabha constituencies of India. One of the hardest and toughest constituency spread over 700 kms from the Southern tip Campbell Bay to the Northern tip Diglipur, is a nightmare for any candidate to cover and make their presence felt.

Every political party - national and regional have a miniscule presence in the Islands. But, how much the national parties care about the Islands is quite obvious from the way list of candidates are announced.

Elections in the Islands is slated for 10th April and there is less than a month left and one of the major political parties, BJP is yet to announce its candidate. In the last elections, Congress had the same fate.

People residing in Andaman and Nicobar Islands might be eager to know whether Aam Aadmi Party, the party that represents new politics is keen in contesting elections from the Islands. But, there is no news from Delhi.

Why should political parties care about a single seat, when they conveniently ignore states like Manipur, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh with more than 2-3 seats.

Moreover, how significant is an MP for the Islands, when he doesn't have any say in the policy decisions. On what basis can one assess performance of an MP from the Islands - the no. of questions he asked in the Parliament or the amount he spent from MPLAD? Do we need an MP for these? A RTI application can get answer to any question and Rs 5 crores in five years can be made available to the Deputy Commissioner for equal and even distribution without any discrimination.

Why is there no anti-incumbency factor in the case of the sitting MP? How can one gauge him when he cannot be held responsible for anything that happened in the last five years? If the same question be poised for the bureaucrats or Lieutenant Governors, there can be a big list of achievements and failures. And, unfortunately we do not have a say in their selection.

If the reason is that he is a public representative and part of the democratic system, he needs to be empowered and placed above the bureaucracy, so that decisions are routed through him, where he has the power to vet them. 

A Member of Parliament cannot be relegated to a petition writer placing demands which can be accepted or rejected without any reason. More than respect, the Member of Parliament deserves authority and power to act. Or else, the whole exercise of people electing their representative does not make any sense. When people repose faith on an individual and elect him, they expect him to perform. Or the best option would be to nominate or appoint an MP like the bureaucrats and the Administrator.

Unfortunately, bureaucrats and the Administrator are more powerful than the Member of Parliament elected by the citizens of this territory.

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