Compulsory Voting and Democracy do not go together: SY Qureshi

Let us fund political parties instead of state funding elections: Former Chief Election Commissioner, SY Qureshi opined Another distinguished speaker, N. Ravi, Chairman of Kasturi & Sons Ltd, reiterated the importance of electoral integrity, respect for individual rights, free speech and the need for a spirit of tolerance and mutual respect for democracy to thrive. Even in ancient times, the process of democracy was used in the form of gathering of public opinion to deliver good governance: R Dileep Reddy, Former Information Commissioner and Veteran Journalist

Compulsory Voting and Democracy do not go together: SY Qureshi

Hyderabad, January 19: The Indian Democracy is in the limelight, especially after the recent US Presidential Elections. The whole world is looking at India for its Democratic values, said S.Y. Qureshi, Former Chief Election Commissioner of India while addressing a Webinar live on YouTube organised by S. Jaipal Reddy Memorial Foundation here in the city.

It was organised on the eve of the 79th Birth Anniversary of former Union Minister and Outstanding Parliamentarian S. Jaipal Reddy. The Webinar was moderated by Dr. L. Pushpakumar, Faculty of Law from Delhi University.

The transition of power from outgoing Prime Minister to Incoming Prime Minister in our country has been smooth. We never see any problems on that front. The both government, the outgoing and incoming have courtesies for each other and shake hands. The losers of elections in our country trust the Election Commission and its electoral processes unlike Donald Trump in the USA who has set a very bad precedent, he said.

India has the most powerful Election Commission in the world. Our elections are considered as the Festival of Democracy, said Qureshi, the retired IAS officer, who besides being Chief Election Commissioner, served in many different positions prior to his top job. It was him who introduced new and separate divisions in the election for Election Expenditure and Voter Education.

15 electoral reforms are pending with the Government of India, Qureshi shafred. But, four of them are very important, Qureshi said and added that the Chief Election Commission of India, the most powerful election commission in the world has the most difficult process of appointing its successive election commissioners. They are appointed by the Prime Minister of the day. Why are we not appointed by the Collegium as many other great institutions follow. Even the CBI Chief is appointed by Collegium. CBI is just a Department of the Government. The Election Commission is different. It is a separate and independent institution. I was benefitted when I was appointed by the Prime Minister of the day. But I would have been equally happy if my appointment letter was also signed by the Chief of the Opposition Party. At the same time, Seniority must be followed while elevating the Election Commissioner to the post of Chief of Election Commissioner he said.

Qureshi strongly ruled out Compulsory Voting as prevalent in many countries. It doesn’t work, he said. It fails wherever it is introduced. It failed to increase the poll percentage. Compulsory and Democracy do not go hand in hand.

He also ruled out State Funding the Elections. Instead, the State can fund parties. All opposition parties together mobilise funds through private donations to the extent Rs 5000 crore in five years. If the state can give Rs 100 for every vote polled to the parties, it amounts to Rs 6000 crore funding based on the last polled votes. The parties will have Rs 6000 crore fund. Such funding can be audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General, Qureshi said

Participating in the Webinar, N. Ravi, Chairman of Kasturi & Sons Ltd, described S. Jaipal Reddy as an outstanding political leader and great parliamentarian. He always stood for the Democratic values. I found him to be sensitive and extremely courteous. I developed an admiration for him.

He described Ten Ideologies, the book authored by S. Jaipal Reddy as extraordinary. I draw from the book deep lifelong learning. Jaipal Reddy had uncompromising love for Democratic values. Different people define democratic spirit differently. Democracy is as good as its people. It depends on mutual respect and tolerance. Though there are several problems, still our Democracy remains as strong as ever. He reiterated the importance of electoral integrity, respect for individual rights, free speech and the need for the spirit of tolerance and mutual respect for democracy to thrive.

R. Dileep Reddy, former state Information Commissioner and a veteran journalist said even in ancient times the process of democracy was used in the form of a gathering of public opinion to deliver good governance.

Anand Reddy, son of late S. Jaipal Reddy while delivering vote of thanks said, the trust was set up with the express purpose of promoting democratic values and ideals which my later father believed and practiced.

The webinar was attended among many political leaders, followers of Jaipal Reddy, his wife Lakshmi, family members and relatives

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