- Election campaign is a chance for the parties to woo the voters.
- In India, the official campaign time period is a two week period between the announcement of the final list of candidates and the date of polling.
- But actually the campaigns start months before the elections actually take place.
- During the campaigns, political leaders address voters in rallies, they appear for debates and interviews on newspapers and televisions.
- The political party mobilises its volunteers to campaign for the nominated candidate.
- Sometimes to attract voters, parties use catchy slogans.
- Some of the famous slogans used by parties are:
- “Garibi Hatao” by Congress Party in Loksabha elections of 1970.
- “Save Democracy” by Janat Party in Loksabha elections of 1977.
- “Land To The Tiller” by Left Front in West Bengal elections of 1977.
- “Protect The Self-Respect Of The Telugus” by Telugu Desam Party in Andhra Pradesh Assembly elections of 1983.
- “Jab Tak Rahega Samose Mein Aloo, Tab Tak Rahega Bihar Mein Lalu” by Rashtriya Janata Dal in Bihar elections from 1990 to 2017.
- “India Shining” by Bharatiya Janta Party in Loksabha elections of 2004.
- “Ab Ki Baar Modi Sarkar” by Bharatiya Janta Party in Loksabha elections of 2014.
Even though parties and candidates are free to think of ways to attract voters, they have to abide by the Model Code of Conduct.
Some of the rules are that the parties or candidates can’t:
- Use any place of worship for election propaganda.
- Use any government officials or vehicles.
- Lay foundation stone, start any new projects or announce any big policies.
If they break any Moral Code of Conduct, their candidature can be cancelled.
Polling and Counting of Votes:
- The last day of an election is the day when the voters cast their votes and it is known as the “election day”.
- Voters visit polling booths to cast votes.
- The election officer identifies the voter and put a mark on the finger.
- An agent of each candidate is allowed to sit inside the polling booth to ensure that the voting takes place in a fair manner.
The aspects which make elections in India democratic are:
Independent Election Commission
- In our country, elections are conducted by Election Commission.
- The head of Election Commission is Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) .
- EC enjoys same independence as judiciary.
- The CEC is not answerable to the President or the government.
- EC implements Code of Conduct.
- During elections, government officials work under EC and not the government.
- It can reprimand the government.
- People’s participation is measured by turnout figures.
- People are encouraged to vote in elections by various campaigns.
- The participation from poor and underprivileged section is more compared to that of the rich and privileged section.
- Ordinary citizens feel that by voting they can pressurise parties in making policies favourable to them.
Challenges to Free and Fair Elections:
- Even though some candidates win on the basis of money power, but the overall verdict of a general election reflects the popular preference.
- Parties with a lot of money enjoy a lot of advantage over small parties.
- Sometimes, people from criminal background push other candidates out of the election race.
- Some families dominate the party and distribute ‘tickets’ among their relatives.
These concerns threaten our election system. We need changes in our electoral system to make it democratic in true sense.