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Are those in Parliament representing the people, questions former CEC Navin Chawla

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Expressing concern over the election process, Navin Chawla called for greater public participation, especially women, but said citizens should trust the system.

Jaipur: Former chief election commissioner of India Navin Chawla on Saturday posed several questions regarding the election processes in the country, ranging from conflict of interest to need for reforms.

Speaking at the Jaipur Literature Festival here, Chawla said, “Our Parliament consists of extremely rich people. Many of them are industrialists and businessmen. They find themselves on parliamentary committees, exactly those places where there is conflict of interest. Are those people in the parliament, representing the voice of the people?”

Without taking any names, the former CEC said, “A current fugitive, now, was once put in the civil aviation ministry’s parliamentary committee. The supposed rationale was that the man had domain expertise. We are on the way to becoming a rich and powerful Parliament, but one should ask if this is the voice of the people? he asked the audience.

He expressed concern over the use of money and muscle power in elections. After his responsibility as CEC was over, one of the candidates had told him that he had spent Rs 50 crore for the Lok Sabha elections, while another had spent Rs 72 crore, Chawla said, pointing put that the expenditure limit for the Parliamentary election is Rs 70 lakh per candidate.

Also read: EVMs being used as a football in a motivated slugfest: CEC Sunil Arora

Chawla, who became India’s 16th Chief Election Commissioner in 2009, said the government’s attitude in tackling unaccounted cash used in elections was critical.

He stressed on the need for greater participation of women in elections and expressed disappointment over the number of women candidates being given tickets by political parties.

Chawla said the chief election commissioner should be appointed with the consensus of the prime minister, the leader of opposition and the chief justice of India.

He also spoke on electoral reforms and his worries about the system. Explaining the importance of every vote, he referred to the example of present Rajasthan assembly Speaker CP Joshi who had lost assembly election in 2008 by just one vote.

“It is remarkable that candidates accept results irrespective of win or loss. That is the great strength (of our system),” he said.

Later, Chawla spoke on the difficulty of conducting elections in Naxal and mountainous areas.

On the issue of EVMs, he said the people should have faith in the system. – PTI

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  1. 50 and 72 crores may be exceptional, but a range of 10 to 25 crores being spent by a serious candidate in a Lok Sabha constituency would be the norm. Figures of 50 to 70 crores being offered to MLAs in Karnataka are also being reported. Most dynasties would qualify for inclusion in the Forbes list. With these facts of life, ordinary citizens feel the quality of governance that is delivered should be of First World standards.

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