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CHANDIGARH MAYOR POLL AND QUESTIONS ON DEMOCRACY

INTRODUCTION:

Democracy stays alive if and only free and fair elections are conducted. Does it happen in India? We may not have a clear idea about all the elections but recently, an instance occurred that raised a doubt in everybody’s mind about how our representatives are elected. Mayor Polls generally do not get so much hype in the News but Chandigarh’s got. Mr. Anil Masih murdered democracy in front of the camera, the Supreme Court came to the rescue and it certainly did so. At the end of all this, a question arises that all this could happen because everything got captured in the Camera, What would have happened if there was no camera? Or what happens during the other elections that are kept away from the eye of the camera? We can only suspect this as there is no evidence available as of now. However, through this act, we got to know that such unconstitutional measures still prevail in India. New amendments or a review committee, a solution must be found to make sure that the Democracy of India remains intact and we do not let ourselves become a China or a North Korea. And even after the judgment was delivered, we still do not know the reason behind this conspiracy.

CHANDIGARH MAYOR POLL:

Chandigarh, being a Union territory and a common capital of both the states of Punjab and Haryana, holds an important position in the political landscape of India. Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Punjab, Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP), and, Jannayak Janta Party in Haryana are in power and Indian National Congress (INC) being the leading opposition party in both the states, makes Chandigarh a common battlefield for all. Not to forget that being a Union territory, the Central government has a strong hold over the place. Having a total of 35 elected seats, the majority can be achieved at 18 votes. The recently formed I.N.D.I.A Alliance (INC+AAP) had a total of 20 votes and N.D.A. Alliance had 15 votes[1], but when the counting ended, despite being more in number, I.N.D.I.A alliance was lost to the N.D.A. alliance.

The Presiding Officer held 8 votes invalid[2] that were cast in the favour of AAP candidate Mr Kuldeep Kumar. The losing alliance hit the streets and protested. An appeal was filed in the Supreme Court. In the first hearing itself, CJI DY Chandrachud categorically said that the Supreme Court can not let Democracy get murdered[3] like this. The bench assembled twice later as well and the decision went in the favour of petitioners[4]. The invalid votes were counted and the decision was given based on that.

DEMOCRACY, DEAD OR ALIVE?

After all, this has happened, Can we still say that all the elections that are held in the Country are free and fair? In the above case, the Supreme Court used its power correctly but it could happen just because of one reason, the CCTV camera. After looking at the footage, the Court delivered its judgment. Imagine the places where votes are counted without being captured in the camera, the possibility of misleading results coming into force becomes much higher.

Just because our Constitution is based on democratic values, it does not mean that we are completely democratic and the chances of majoritarianism do not come into play. To maintain a healthy democracy, the requirement of free public institutions remains absolute. Even North Korea considers itself a democracy but the truth is known to all. Citizens often make mistakes between a democracy and majoritarianism, the power of being more in numbers, more or less dominates the democratic pillars, that is Majoritarianism.

Even after the Supreme Court’s judgment, we do not know why the Presiding officer took such a step, we are unaware of his intentions or benefits behind doing this. He did that, whether he did not want AAP’s candidate to win or he was told by someone to mark the ballots invalid, the reason is unknown.

The debate for democracy Is much bigger to understand but relying on these behaviours by the concerned authorities gives a negative viewpoint to the voters when they are in the process of deciding whom should they vote for. If the person who gets the highest number of votes even after that he/she loses, then what is the point of conducting an election and pretending that democracy exists? The whole motive behind an election is to give powers to the person who has the most number of votes.

CONCLUSION:

When a party or a person acquires a certain power then no matter what, they never want to leave the source of that power, however, giving someone else a chance to fulfil promises makes society a neutral place, and all of this can only be attained through a proper procedure of election. An election is meant to be a process that provides a valid opportunity for every voter to think and analyse their decision to choose a representative. This process makes sure that democracy is sustained and people’s mandates are respected. When something happens like Chandigarh’s mayor poll, the voters become curious about their importance in the due process. In elections full of horse-trading, the importance of maintaining a high-value standard becomes rare and if it finishes then there is no point left in even thinking about choosing a candidate because whatever has to happen, it would happen even if the mandate is opposite. To maintain a good flow of democracy, both the ruling and opposition must keep their heart big and respect the decision even if the decision is not favourable. Chandigarh’s mayor poll can be a minimal issue for the country but it got noticed as the conspiracy was busted, we do not have proper data to know if things like this happen in the other parts of the country as well but we might not be surprised if the outcome is same like Chandigarh’s. A better option has to be found to cast and count votes and that too under full surveillance of CCTV cameras so that even if something misery happens, it can be easily found out. Winning an election is not compulsory but fighting and then winning on merit is a must. “A Politician thinks of the next election; a statement of the next generation. A Politician looks for the success of his party; a Statesman for that of his Country. The statesman wishes to steer, while the Politician is satisfied to drift.”[5]

Author(s) Name: Yash Prashar (Rizvi Law College)

Reference(s):

[1] Mandeep Kaur Narula “BJP’s Manoj Sonkar elected Chandigarh mayor, defeats INDIA bloc’s candidate” (Hindustan Times, 30th January 2024) <https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/bjps-manoj-sonkar-elected-chandigarh-mayor-defeats-india-bloc-s-candidate-101706604922608.html> last accessed 27th February 2024

[2] Kamaljit Kaur Sandhu “BJP wins Chandigarh mayor’s post, 8 votes invalid, AAP-Congress to go to court” (India Today, 30th January 2024) <https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/chandigarh-mayoral-polls-bjp-wins-mayors-post-beats-aap-congress-setback-for-india-bloc-2495294-2024-01-30> last accessed 27th February 2024

[3] Anantha Krishnan G “Chandigarh mayor polls: Supreme Court raps presiding officer, says won’t allow ‘democracy to be murdered” (The Indian Express, 6th February 2024) <https://indianexpress.com/article/india/supreme-court-cji-chandrachud-chandigarh-mayor-elections-9145265/> last accessed 27th February 2024

[4] Krishnadas Rajagopal “Supreme Court declares AAP leader as Mayor of Chandigarh” (The Hindu, 20th February 2024) <https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/supreme-court-sets-aside-chandigarh-mayoral-poll-results-declares-aap-councillor-kuldeep-kumar-winner/article67866716.ece> last accessed 27th February 2024

[5]“More Quotes by James Freeman Clarke” (Forbes) <http://www.forbes.com/thoughts/author/james-freeman-clarke> last accessed 27th February 2024