New Delhi, April 17 (IANS) Strongly advocating electoral reforms to disallow candidates with criminal background from contesting elections, poll panel chief S.Y. Quraishi Tuesday said free and fair voting will help curb corruption in the country.
Addressing a session on "Governance: The key to a developed India" at the annual general meeting of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Quraishi said the poll panel had proposed some 20 election reforms, like barring of candidates with criminal records and auditing expense accounts of candidates and making these public.
But the bill related to these reforms is hanging fire in parliament and is expected to be taken up during the budget session. Quraishi said these electoral reforms were imperative to good governance that will help in curbing graft.
He said till the government goes ahead with these reforms, the poll panel has learnt by its own on how to tackle candidates with criminal records.
"A video camera always follows any candidate with criminal records. We keep an eye on him so that he doesn't use money or muscle power to influence voters," Quraishi said.
The poll panel chief said money power "needs to be broken" to have free and fair voting.
According to current rules, a Lok Sabha candidate can spend Rs.40 lakh on his elections expenses and an aspirant for a state assembly can invest Rs.16 lakh.
"If a candidate has invested Rs.10 crore (to win elections) and he becomes a minister, he is bound to extract that money from public funds and influence bureaucrats. This is where corrupt nexus between bureaucrats and politicians gets its roots. This (nexus) needs to be broken," he said.
Quraishi, widely credited for recent peaceful elections in five states, including Uttar Pradesh, also blamed "voters' apathy" for rampant graft practices.
"You are the biggest culprits. You don't vote despite poll day being a holiday. When you don't vote, you don't contribute to the formation of the government," he said, adding people who don't vote had no right to target any government.
On peoples' reluctance to vote, Quraishi cited an example of elections in Mumbai scheduled on a Friday.
He said people in Mumbai took the poll day holiday as an extended weekend and went for holidaying.
"It was then we (the poll panel) learnt a lesson. Elections in Mumbai will always be on Wednesdays or some other days but not on Fridays or Mondays," he said.
Quraishi however said Indian elections were a lesson for the world, "something we can teach western nations".
"Indian elections is the biggest human management event in the world. We should come out of this low self-esteem (syndrome) and learn to be proud of our country."
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