Day 70 – Q 3. It has been observed that political parties make tall claims and unrealistic promises before the elections and once the elections are over they get away by calling them ‘campaigning dialogues’. Should there be a mechanism to make political parties accountable for keeping their promises after winning the elections?
3. It has been observed that political parties make tall claims and unrealistic promises before the elections and once the elections are over they get away by calling them ‘campaigning dialogues’. Should there be a mechanism to make political parties accountable for keeping their promises after winning the elections?
Accountability is the hallmark of democratic setup of any country which refers to answerability and taking responsibility of one’s actions or inactions. Election season is marked by tall claims and unrealistic promises of political parties in their election manifestos for which they are not answerable to anyone if they fail to fulfill those promises.
If democracy is a social contract between those elected and ordinary citizens, then manifestoes should be considered as a legal contract enshrining a country’s purported development agenda.
Arguments in support of making political parties accountable:
- Election promises disturb the level playing field, give edge to some parties, and shakes the root of free and fair election to a large degree.
- Parties play with the emotions of people. Example – issue of illegal migrants in north east states.
- There is increase in trust deficit in case government fails to fulfil election promises.
- Election promises sometimes create rift/tension between communities in a multi-cultural society as India. Example – promises of construction of Ram Temple even though the matter is sub-judice in Supreme Court.
- It creates undue burden on exchequer which is against prudent fiscal planning. Example – loan waiver announcements by various political parties.
- Populist promises announced can sometimes lead to inadequately planned measures which can have unintended results. Example- demonetization was announced to put a curb on black money.
- Making parties accountable for their promises will ensure that they will make realistic promises; debates on more important issues of national importance can be of public discourse.
Challenges in making parties accountable:
- Model Code of Conduct (MCC) drafted by Election Commission of India (ECI) is not enforceable by law.
- Sometimes Coalition government comes to power which makes it difficult to fulfil election promises.
- It is impractical for ECI to scrutinize manifestos of all political parties.
- Making MCC legally enforceable.
- Increasing awareness among voters by NGOs, civil societies about manifestos during election times.
- Unbiased media -making paid news a corrupt practice under Section 123 of the Representation of People’s (RP) Act, 1951.
- Need for self-restraint by parties.
For the health of India’s democracy, ensuring accountability of political parties for manifestoes remains a key reform to be pushed which will strengthen the democratic credentials of our country.
Best answer: Buddha