It is quite well known that money plays a major part in Indian elections. Now, the Election Commission (EC) is seeking legal powers to countermand an election if there is evidence of using money to bribe voters. It is rightly seeking to amend Section 58A—introduced in 1989—of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 which empowers it to adjourn or countermand an election in case of booth-capturing. With electronic voting machines being a reality, booth-capturing is a thing of the past. The focus shifted to the bribing of voters after a sting operation by TV channels showed MLAs in Karnataka using it as a means to rake in crores to stamp their preference for a particular candidate in the biennial elections to the Rajya Sabha on June 11. The problem arose as there are five candidates in the fray for the four Rajya Sabha seats.
In the recent Tamil Nadu elections, too, the EC recommended cancellation of voting in two constituencies—Aravakurichi and Thanjavur—on account of voters being bribed. Going by how aggressively the EC is pushing the agenda on ensuring that voters are not bribed, the law should hopefully be in place well before the 2017 state elections are held. That’s one more step in cleaning up the democratic process. Now, it is for the government to ensure a cleaner voting mechanism.