S Y Qureshi - Big challenge to stop tainted leaders

 He has been the Chief Election Commissioner of the country. YS Qureshi, a 1971 batch IAS officer, has done PhD in Communication and Social Marketing. After retiring from the post of Chief Election Commissioner, he is teaching as a professor at the Cluster Innovation Center at Delhi University. Here is an excerpt from one of his speeches-

S Y Qureshi

Our specialty

The world knows India as a huge democratic country. The number of voters in our country is more than the total number of voters in fifty countries of Europe. What would you say is the big deal? The population here is very high, so the voters will also be more. But we arrange elections in the lowest and highest voter numbers. There is only one voter in the Gir forest of Gujarat. We build a polling booth for a voter there. Similarly, till recently, a polling booth was made for only one voter in an area of ​​Kerala. This is the quality of our election.

Importance of one vote

I narrate an incident. In the Rajasthan elections, a Congress minister lost by just one vote. He asked for the votes to be counted again. The same result came in the count again. He once again asked the votes to be counted. The same result came. This time he called the election officer and thanked him for making free and fair elections. Losing by one vote and then honestly accepting our defeat, this is the quality of our election. Many countries of the world do not have such fair and honorable elections. However, an interesting aspect of the incident is that the minister's wife and daughter did not vote on the day of the vote. I spoke to that leader after the election. He told that on the polling day his wife and daughter went to the temple wishing him victory. If both had cast their vote, the minister would have won the election. Election is the temple of democracy, so every voter must vote.

Women's voting rights

In India, women have been given equal voting rights since 1950. This is not a small thing. It took 144 years for a powerful and developed country like America to give women voting rights. We should be proud of it. Women got voting rights after 100 years in Britain. In those days western countries considered us fools. They used to say, look at them, 86 per cent of the people here are illiterate, society is divided among castes and religions, how will they handle democracy? We proved them wrong.

Election commission

The constitution is the basis of the success of our democracy. Our Constitution provides for a strong institution like the Election Commission. The Election Commission of India is the most powerful and empowered Election Commission in the world. This institution is completely out of government control. In addition, the Supreme Court has contributed significantly in strengthening the democratic system. People sitting in government may be confused that they can interfere with the authority of the Election Commission, but the Supreme Court has cleared that confusion. Earlier, during the elections, the state governments were furious about the transfer or posting of officers, but after the Supreme Court order, the governments had to change their attitude. Once the Election Commission demanded the deployment of a company paramilitary force in an election area, but the Ministry of Home Affairs refused. After this, the case went to the Supreme Court. The court ordered the home ministry that according to the requirement of the Election Commission, you have to provide security forces. The ministry had to accept the order.

Code of conduct

The code of conduct comes into force at the time of election. According to the code of conduct, political parties cannot give inflammatory speeches related to caste and religion to woo voters. Leaders cannot make personal attacks on each other. In some cases our leaders have taken good initiative. He has shown readiness to follow the election code of conduct. Not all leaders are bad. We cannot run democracy without leaders. In the sixty years of independence, we have made considerable progress. All this has been possible due to good leaders. We can see the condition of our neighbors. They were also free with us. What is the difference between them and our condition? Dull and corrupt officers emerge in our mind as soon as the name of bureaucrats comes. But the truth is that the entire electoral process in the country is conducted by bureaucrats. We cannot tolerate any disturbances or negligence in the electoral process. It is not easy to conduct elections in a large country like India. For this, we have to praise our officers. Similarly, media and civil society have also contributed significantly in strengthening democracy.

Tainted and criminal

We have achieved considerable success in curbing muscle power and money power in elections. Incidents of booth capturing and voter bullying have become outdated. Despite these advantages, there are some problems in the election. We are the largest democratic country, but not the greatest. Even today, we have not stopped tainted leaders from contesting elections. Many times people tell me that such tainted leaders are sitting in Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha, what is the Election Commission doing? We want to tell them that it is not in our hands. It will be through law. Preventing stains is still a big challenge.

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