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What are the unique features of electioneering in India?
India's first general election was held in 1920 to elect the members of the Imperial Legislative Council under British rule. Although, East India Company weakens India by exploiting the resources but unpremeditatedly introduced an event that was going to be decisive in determining the fate of the Country for perpetuity.
In 1951-1952, Independent India witnessed first ever Lok Sabha Elections, a contest between major political parties but undoubtedly the winner was India National Congress headed by Shri Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.
Features of Electioneering in India:
Undoubtedly, to conduct elections in a second largest populated country is not the task that can be evolved easily. It requires consistent commitment and desires of government to frame a process for free and fair elections. Somehow, past government become successful to formulate free flowing election system
- Universal adult franchise systems of voting:
In India, universal adult franchise system of voting is followed which means every citizen of age above 18 years has given right to vote irrespective of his / her caste, color, creed, sex, religion or place of birth.
- Election Commission of India – Nodal Agency:
Election Commission of India (EC) was formed on 25th January, 1950 as an autonomous, constitutionally established federal authority. The role of EC to administer and conduct the elections in India. General elections, state legislature elections, election for President and Vice President of India are under the control and direction of EC. The role of EC is also extended to delimitation of constituencies, preparation of electoral rolls, recognition of political parties and allotment of symbol
- Voting by People of India:
The only tool available to common man in India is his / her voting right duly given by constitution of India. Indian democracy is undeterred because of the right to choose his / her representative at parliament is given to each and every eligible citizen of India. It is the perception of public in whole who decides the fate of the nation in bode.
- Electronic Voting Machines:
From General elections 2004, EC introduced Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) for the purpose of voting by voters. EVM is exclusively designed which work on battery so that it can operate at locations where there is no electricity. EVM ensures the rule of "one person, one vote" thus proved great innovation to frustrate bogus voting which was prevailing at the time of paper voting. EVM is low cost, portable and very fast in counting votes. This unique innovation by EC has proved beneficial for the election system of our country.
- Model Code of Conduct for the guidance of political parties and candidates:
Model code of conduct is a guideline of conduct by the political parties and candidates during their election campaign. These code come into force when EC declares the date of elections and it is mandatory for political parties and candidates to follow these conduct. EC issues these codes in relation to conduct during rallies, processions and meeting of parties and candidates. Conduct of parties and candidates during polling day and at polling booth. It also directs the party in power that it should misuse its power during election process and also provide guidelines to issue manifest.
- "None of the above" voting option (NOTA):
It is one of the unique features introduced by EC to enable the voters to exercise negative voting. If voter does not wish to vote to any candidate, he / she can press NOTA button available on EVM to cast his / her negative vote. Initially, this move was opposes by government and political parties but later on Supreme Court through its judgment in PIL filed by an NGO upheld the right of negative vote and EC implemented the same.
- Limit on poll expenses:
EC issues limit on poll expenses to be spent by political parties or candidates during state assembly elections or Lok Sabha elections. In general elections 2014, EC raised the limit of expenses upto 30% i.e. Rs. 70 Lakhs for lager constituencies and Rs. 54 Lakhs for smaller constituencies.
The above features of electioneering in India reflect how EC has been able to bring revolution in the election process which ultimately results in smooth, free and fair elections. However, the reality is not propitious as deficiency in maintaining electoral rolls, providing proper security to polling staff and security personal in areas obstructed by naxals or other terror groups causing a great threat to bastion process of election in our country. EC has to take unassailable steps to protect the right of citizen of India.