Vice President Hamid Ansari on Monday said it is paradoxical that while registered voters’ participation in elections had steadily increased, the actual functioning of the legislatures had declined.
“Today, we are confronted by a paradox. While the registered voter participation in elections has steadily increased, the actual functioning of the legislatures has steadily decreased,” Ansari said here while delivering the Indira Gandhi Memorial Lecture of the Asiatic Society on national integration.
He said: “The Lok Sabha, in 1952-1974, uniformly registered more than 100 sittings each year; the corresponding figure in the 2000-2015 period has never exceeded 85 and has in some years gone as low as 46.”
“The Rajya Sabha sittings in earlier years were at times fewer but now both Houses adjourn on the same date. As a consequence, scrutiny of proposed legislation is in many cases perfunctory,” Ansari said.
He said that now less time is available for seeking the accountability of the executive through procedural devices like questions, debates and discussion.
He noted that in the state legislatures it was worse — with some state assemblies being convened, in a pro forma exercise, for less than 10 days every year.
Ansari also called for reinforcing public confidence in the ability of the system to deliver.
He said that despite improvement in public participation in electoral politics, public satisfaction in the functioning of elected bodies was breeding cynicism.
Anasari said: “The imperative for a corrective is evident.”
He also highlighted the unequal presence of weaker sections in elected bodies.
“We hold that the First-Past-The-Post (FPTP) system has served us adequately. The Supreme Court in 1994 had characterised it as possessing the merit of preponderance of decisiveness over representativeness,” he said.
Ansari noted that FPTP continues to be the subject of considerable discussion.
He also raised a question about the financing of elections.
Ansari said: “It is corroding the system. A remedy may lie in state funding that will curb corruption by wealthy parties and support resource crunched parties.”
He said the opinion on implementing it, however, is divided and this is reflected in the Law Commission Report.