Our nation and its institutions are in crisis. Our beloved secular parties are feeling unloved and insecure. They had become used to a certain standard of pampering and privilege and now it is all slipping away. It has been discovered that our institutions are deeply unequal at their core. Parties that win elections receive powers that are denied to parties that lose elections. In order to assuage the feelings of losing secular parties, I have made a simple list of FIVE fundamental ways in which our system needs to change.
(1) Change the first past the post system : To everyone’s shock, it has just been discovered that one can win a seat, or even a state or a national election, with less than 50% of the vote. This is highly undemocratic, because it means that the majority was against the winner!
To remedy this situation, here is a simple replacement strategy. If the BJP secures the max number of votes in a seat, allow for a “post poll negotiation” where the “secular” parties can sit together and pool their votes to decide a winner from that seat.
For instance, if BJP has won 100 votes in a seat, SP has got 60 votes and BSP has got 50 votes, the Election Commission should invite both non-BJP parties to sit together and decide on a consensus candidate who would be awarded 60+50=110 votes and be declared the winner in the seat.
If this procedure had been allowed in Assam or Uttar Pradesh, the democratic mandate would have looked very different.
(2) Use EVMs, but with riders : This is currently a hot topic. For instance, EVMs were manipulated yesterday in Rajasthan, Himachal and Assam and in the one seat in MP where BJP won. In the seat that BJP lost, EVMs were obviously working great. Not to mention that the EVMs in Karnataka yesterday were the best, most efficient and reliable machines ever built.
Now, we wouldn’t want to totally lose out on the speed of EVM elections, so here is a compromise. Let the Election Commission first declare the vote count from the EVM. If the BJP is shown as winning, some further process would be required. The representative of each political party will now be asked to vote Yes/No on whether he/she likes the result. If there is a larger number of “No” votes, then representatives of the political parties will hold another election on the spot and choose a correct winner.
Let’s illustrate how this works. Suppose BJP, BSP, SP, Cong, JDU, RJD, CPI, AAP are all contesting a seat. The EVM shows that BJP has got the max number of votes. But now the EC must poll all the 8 parties on whether they like the result. Obviously, there will be just 1 Yes vote coming from BJP and 7 No votes coming from secular parties. As such, a new election will be held on the spot between the 8 members of the 8 parties, thus finding a new secular winner.
(3) Rules governing the leader of opposition: It is now well known that the Modi government has tried to kill democracy by asking the Congress party’s Speaker to impose a 10% minimum rule in the 1950s for a party to claim the LoP post.
This 10% rule simply needs to go. Further, the Opposition should be allowed to have not just one leader, but it’s own entire ministry, complete with Cabinet, state and deputy levels.
Laid out, this means that India should create new positions such as “Home Minister of the Opposition” and “Finance Minister of the Opposition”. These positions should come with lal battis, full Cabinet honors and appropriate offices in North Block and South Block. For each minister appointed by the ruling party, there will be an “opposition minister” who will enjoy the exact same privileges.
As a further concession to Rahul baba, the “Leader of Opposition” should be renamed as “Prime Leader of the Opposition”.
(4) End of money bills : Money bills are a way for the Lok Sabha to ignore the Rajya Sabha. This is insulting to political parties that have not won Lok Sabha elections and in some cases, are not capable of sending even one representative to the Lok Sabha.
As such, the abolition of money bills a new measure called the “Rajya bill” is proposed. A Rajya Bill can only be brought by the “Prime Leader of the Opposition” and the Lok Sabha will only have advisory powers in matters of such bills. The Rajya Sabha shall have the final word on all Rajya Bills.
(5) Curtailing of parliamentary powers : Over time, if it is discovered that the secular parties are losing representation even in the Rajya Sabha, the powers of Parliament itself should be reviewed. Once a bill has been passed in LS and RS, it should then be sent for clearance to a state assembly chosen according to the whim of the Prime Leader of the Opposition.
For instance, the numbers in the Rajya Sabha are increasingly tilting towards the BJP. As such, the Assembly of the NCT of Delhi can easily be used as a third house of parliament. If favorable state assemblies are not available, the bills passed by parliament can be sent to a municipal council, a gram sabha or panchayat or any forum where it can be blocked by a secular opposition.