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What are the real issues confronting India in the run up to the general election 2014.

General election in India is a periodic exercise, thanks to our robust democratic system. It is a tool which is adopted by the people of India to choose its government.

Constitutional guidelines empower people to elect their representatives. And these representatives are accountable to the people. The representatives of the people work for a specific period of time for the betterment of society and the country as whole.

Election commission has responsibilities to conduct elections after every five years. It has the agenda to conduct "free and fair" election with maximum participation of the peole. The election commission has been doing this task since Independence and is planning to do so for the constitution of the 16th Lok Sabha.

However 2014 Lok Sabha election will have multifaceted challenges to deal with.

Firstly, the performance of 15th Lok Sabha has made people skeptical about the functioning of the Parliament. Low moral behavior of member of the Parliamentarians has compelled people to ask "Is this a democracy?", "Is this a way representative of people should behave?" The biggest challenge is to maintain the confidence of common people in the institution of democracy, It's then only then they will participate in the electoral process.

Secondly, some parts of country are still affected by Maoist and Naxalites elements. Government has been working to bring them in the mainstream but things haven't turn around in a positive way. It will be a difficult task to conduct elections in such places where the writ of Maoist and Naxalites runs large.

Similarly, northeastern states also are not accommodated fully in mainstream of Indian politics. Recent racist attack on a boy from the northeastern region in New Delhi is an eye opener. In other parts of country also people from the northeastern region are not treated well. This will certainly make some of the northeaster people reluctant to take part in the upcoming electoral process.

There are also some irregularities being noticed during the election process and is a matter of concern. Election commission invokes model code of conduct during electioneering. This model code specifies "do" and "don't" for political parties to adhere to during the elections. However there is violation to the model code of conduct being noticed at grass root level. Money, alcohol and muscle power plays a big role in influencing the voters. This is a violation of the model code of conduct.

The role of media has also has come under scanner during the elections. Political parties use media for its own purposes. The incidences of paid news are growing. So is the incorrect opinion polls that are fixed appearing in newspapers to misguide the people.

Fourth major challenge is to motivate the first time voters to cast their vote. According to a survey, the 16th Lok Sabha election will have maximum number of first time voters. It is very important that these young voters should participate in the voting process. Election commission is using the services of youth icons from sport and Bollywood to motivate first time voters. Will they come to vote is a major challenge.

The geographical factors like adverse terrain can also pose some challenge to the conducting of elections smoothly. To ensure polling booth in a geographical adverse places will be also a major challenge. However, with advancement in technological, now it's possible to conduct elections in every part of India.

There is little doubt that the general election 2014 will be full of issues and challenges. The past record shows that people's participation in the democratic process has been increasing steeply. Therefore the 2014 election require more transparency and accountability from the candidates who aspire to be people representatives. The same is expected from the election commission as well.

It is hoped that all the issues raised will be dealt with diligence and mutual cooperation to make the 2014 general election a grand success.

Ajeet Singh

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