President calls for
electoral reforms, increasing parliament seats
April 08, 2017
existing Indian parliamentary system, though political parties
with less numbers of seats enjoy equal rights and authority with
the party in power, they have "no responsibility", said
President Pranab Mukherjee
President Pranab Mukherjee today advocated the need for strong
electoral reforms to strengthen the democratic process saying it
is time to look at legal provisions for increasing the number of
parliamentary seats. Mukherjee also said in the existing Indian
parliamentary system, though political parties with less numbers
of seats enjoy equal rights and authority with the party in
power, they have “no responsibility”.
He said it is necessary to undertake a “dispassionate analysis
of the way in which our electoral process is functioning with a
view to address the shortcomings in the system”.
The President was speaking at a seminar on ‘Economic Reforms
With Reference To Electoral Issues’ where Chief Justice of India
J S Khehar said electoral promises routinely remain unfulfilled
and manifestos turn out to be mere pieces of paper, for which
parties have to be held accountable.
“Chief Justice of India very emphatically and relevantly pointed
out accountability, but the system of parliamentary governance
is such that if somebody gets 51 (majority) out of 100, 51 has
all the rights and authority and in our electoral process, less
than 51 have all the rights and authorities but no
responsibility,” Mukherjee said.
Elaborating the need for electoral reforms, the President said
freeze on the population figure was imposed in 1976 which has
been extended till 2026 by an Act in 2001 due to which
Parliament today represents the figure of 1971 census whereas
same has increased manifold.
“The Constitution (Forty Second Amendment) Act 1976 imposed a
freeze on the population figure for readjustment at the 1971
census and has been extended by the Constitution (Eighty-fourth
Amendment) Act 2001 till 2026.
“As a result the House of the People today represents the
population figure of 1971 census whereas our population has
increased manifold in the recent decades,” he said.
The president said, “this gives rise to an anomalous situation
wherein today, India has over 800 million voters and 543 Lok
Sabha constituencies represent 1.28 billion people”.
“To give true expression to the will of the people, it is time
that we look at the legal provisions on the delimitation of the
Parliamentary constituencies with a view to increase their
“If Great Britain can have more than 600 Parliamentary
constituencies, why can’t India, with a much higher population,
have more number of seats?” the President said.
Stressing the need for reforms, he said, “a strong electoral
system and timely reforms are necessary to strengthen the
democratic structure of India. Timely reforms are necessary
which not only would give justice to people but also to the
ideals enshrined in the Constitution of India”.
Referring to instability in governance, the President said, in
the past, coalition governments at the Centre contributed to
unstable governments necessitating frequent elections.
“Between 1989-1999, as per constitutional practice there should
have been three elections in 1989, 1994 and 1999 but actually
what happened was that five general elections took place in
1989, 1991, 1996, 1998 and 1999.
“To avoid that, fragile opportunistic coalitions were formed but
they did not last and some of the issues to my mind can never be
addressed through the real system. Some of these issues have to
be addressed by the law,” he said.
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