Apart from the first-past-the-post (FPTP) system which is currently used as the only process of elections in the Lok Sabha and Assembly polls, an all-party Parliamentary panel is now looking out from different systems of elections. According to a report published by Indian Express, the panel has cited apprehensions that the FPTP might not be the best suited process for elections. For the same, Congress leader Anand Sharma, who heads the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice, has sent a six-page long “Questionnaire on Electoral Reforms” to all parties and the Election Commission (EC).
“There are different systems of elections — like first-past-the-post (FPTP), list system (open list and closed system), proportional representation, ranked or preferential voting, and mixed systems. In our country we follow FPTP for Parliament and Legislative Assemblies’ elections and proportional representation for the election of President…What is your view in the matter and please also suggest the alternative system, if any,”
read the questionnaire.
“Apprehensions are now being raised that in recent years the FPTP system is not the best suited system as is evident from the recent Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, where results have indicated that a party getting 39 per cent vote share won 312 seats and parties getting 22 per cent and 21 per cent got only 47 and 19 seats respectively,” it added further.
Several Opposition parties including the Congress have stressed that the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) won the 2014 Lok Sabha elections due to the FPTP process as the party polled only about 31 per cent of the vote share.
The report also stated that Sharma’s questionnaire asked the EC to give a comparative analysis of the FPTP system which is currently followed in India and the United Kingdom. Currently the views of parties and the EC have been sought under five large points including ‘Electoral Funding’, ‘Systems of Elections’, ‘Media/ Free Airtime’, ‘Internal Democracy in Political Parties’, and ‘Miscellaneous’.
Highlighting the section related to the media, the panel has cited enhancement of private media houses and has asked to figured out whether these media outlets should be regulated or controlled like government-run channels such as Doordarshan and All India Radio.
“In many cases, political parties and candidates are directly or indirectly controlling stakes in media houses, leading to witch-hunting and character assassination of political parties and candidates. There is also emergence of cartels and oligarchies in media ownerships and leaning towards parties in power to further business,” said the letter seeking views on the specific issue of airtime allocation to political parties and candidates in privately owned electronic and print media during elections.