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Accountability Tryst With 2024 Ballot…. 

4 Min
Accountability Tryst With 2024 Ballot…. 

By Prasad Nallapati

Who wins the on-going round of parliamentary elections is no longer the moot point. What is of concern is how the elected government will remain accountable to the people who have voted in the seven-phase ballot with aspirations for a bright future.

Experience with India’s festival of democracy over the past seven decades shows that most elected members visit their constituencies once in five years to seek a fresh mandate and that they remain generally inaccessible during the intervening period. 

Except paying lip-service, the elected representatives from the highest of the high to the lowest of the low have mostly become impervious to popular suffering. Arrogance of power has reached its zenith.  And they believe they are divinely-ordained to rule their “jagir”, till it is time for a fresh mandate.

In our system of First-past-the-post system, which is a colonial legacy, a people’s representative celebrates victory even with 35-40 per cent of vote share, and the commitment to electorate takes a back seat in the euphoria.  

Each contestant is spending about Rs. 50-60 crores ($ 6-7 million) in a state assembly election and about Rs. 150 crores ($18 million) in a Parliamentary poll. Elected or defeated, each one of them has little time to attend to people’s grievances with their focus on recouping money spent

There is precious little that people can do to pin their representatives and the government to address their problems and take corrective measures in a time-bound manner. 

The Press and Electronic Media have little appetite to fight for people’s rights, and to highlight people’s plight with Corporate Moguls in the ownership saddle to the glee of their political friends. 

Hence the question: What after Polls? Will history continue to repeat?

Well, the Constitution, which is invoked during the on-going poll rhetoric amidst claims that the BJP- led NDA would rewrite the statute, if voted, provides a template for accountability of the political executive.

The Courts of Law are designed to check the political executive and legislature against violation of the rights of people. 

PILs have made the judiciary accessible to the people of all hues. But the legal fraternity’s ways and the high cost of litigation have made courts mostly unreachable.  Judicial pronouncements often come too late to be of much relief. 

The bureaucracy, particularly the elite services, are shamelessly politicized on the basis of caste.   

Parliament and the state legislatures have also not been living up to the expectations. The floor of the House was once a talking chamber, but to quote former Vice President Venkaiah Naidu, has since become a scene for a spectre of “Shout Out and Walk Out”.

So much so, the only weapon the people have to be counted and to be heard is their vote but in the present scheme of our democracy, they have to wait for five years to exercise it.  There is hardly any recourse in the meantime.

Our First-past-the-post (FPTP) system, is no guarantee that right people get elected.


Simply put, the crying need of the hour is to get governments that work as per popular wish. 

And the time is just opportune since Netas are testing their electoral fortunes with road shows and house-to-house visits with their party manifestos in tow.

Boycott of elections, as some sections have done, notably in Nagaland, is not the answer to the challenge of governance of a vast country with a large population.

Nor NOTA, which some egg-heads have come to favour. It is no more than making a mockery of our very commitment to pluralism and democracy. 


I have a different take in this regard.

It is based on my long exposure to governance at various levels in India and abroad. 

People should put forth their set of demands before the Netas.

And hand over their ‘slip’ as the voter slip is delivered at their door-step.

Also take an undertaking that if elected, their demands will be acted upon on priority basis.   

This will be a good food for thought for our politicians, who are increasingly becoming hostage to quick-fix mantras for electoral nirvana.

It will also put an end to the ever-widening practice of free-bees, which will only hasten our march towards IMF doles in the short run.

Blue Print

Now a blue print

Most administrative reforms have focused on changes at high echelons rather than at the base level, which is the crucial foundation for effective governance. Reforms should start from ground level.

Article 243ZD (please check this) of our Constitution provides for District Planning Committees to consolidate plans prepared by Panchayats and Municipalities, but these Committee meetings, presided over by a state minister, have become forum for officialese.  

Essential is a District-level Intellectual Forum as a think-tank on local problems

*To keep a check on misuse of government institutions, particularly the police, to harass political and personal opponents since cutting edge of governance is the district.    “Errant” reports prepared by District-level Intellectual Forum should engage the attention of regulatory agencies. Also, of the   Courts for action.

**To monitor the performance of elected leaders and to make them more responsive to popular concerns.

***To ensure plans for local employment generation since job crisis at the level is a major reason for youth migration or youth drifting towards violent practices.   And to review such plans.

District-level Intellectual Forum must comprise people of high integrity and knowledge as a think-tank on local problems in association with district officials and academic institutions. 


Simultaneously needed are urgent reforms in local level institutions of administration, police and judiciary, which are the ones in direct contact with people and therefore highly prone to corruption.

Simply put, for good governance, and for effective governance alike, elections must become a mandate to come to grips with the problems staring at the people at the ballot box level.( SAT)

*This commentary first appeared on Deccan Council web site