Quraishi rules out online voting in near future



New Delhi: Chief Election Commissioner SY Quraishi on Tuesday said he doesn't see online voting becoming a reality in near future while state funding of elections in the country will first require certain key reforms in the electoral process.

"Voting online, technologically is child's play for us. We are an IT superpower. Let's accept that. But we do not see that happening in the near future," Quraishi said at a session on "Governance: The Key to a Developed India" here.

On state funding of elections, the CEC said it can be considered only after bringing in financial transparency and internal democracy in political parties.

"Your safety and your integrity is our concern. Someone points a gun at you and asks you to vote for you. We hope that your laptop cannot protect you from that. Secondly, we don't even trust you. Somebody comes and gives you Rs 5,000 and asks you to vote for him. Till we are able to control that, that (online voting) cannot happen," he said.

On state funding, he said "it should be considered only when there is total internal democracy within political parties and they have financial transparency".

Quraishi stressed that the key to good governance was through people's participation. "The key to good governance for five years is through voter participation", he said, adding that "if you come out and vote for good candidates, it will help provide good governance".

Quraishi said when voter participation was increasing in elections, there was no need for compulsory voting, as suggested by some.

"Where is the need to talk of compulsory voting, when 80 per cent people are voting already. Women are also coming out...," he said.

The CEC stressed that political parties should bring in internal democracy and even though some headway has been made in this regard, he said the EC was not looking into this aspect now as it had other more important matters at hand.

He said while booth capturing is "now history", the criminalisation of politics and use of money power during elections were a cause of concern for the EC. "The last two problems continue to be our problem", he said.

Quraishi said, "quality of governance, I feel, is the corner-stone of any civilised society and democracy probably is the key to good governance. Because a democracy has to be responsive to the people's needs and aspirations. I would not be wrong in saying that governance begins and ends with elections. Elections are fought in the name of governance."

He added that it is important that the mandate of the people is free of all interference and manipulation.

Exuding confidence in the world's biggest democracy, Quraishi said "Indian election is the biggest human management event in the world" as a total of 11 million people conduct elections in the country and people of the country should be proud of this and not try to follow the western countries.

"We should come out of the colonial mindset. Maybe, we can teach the western world a thing or two. At a time when we are suffering from low self-esteem that as if we are a rotten, corrupt nation, there is a lot of good about us which we can be proud of," he said.

Quraishi said we have been asking for de-criminalisation of politics by debarring criminals from contesting elections and "till that happens, we cannot keep quiet".

Money is a big issue today and many feel that election has become the biggest source of corruption in the country, because of the use of illegal money. He said the nexus between the politician and bureaucracy needs to be broken.

He, however, lamented that "one problem that bothers us is voter apathy" and said those who did not vote were the biggest critics of government.

On the complaint that the EC has "killed the festival of democracy", the CEC said "if anyone has a problem with this he could send this festival to their house".

On the lessons learnt from the last concluded elections, Quraishi said the EC planned minutely, implemented professionally, delegated generously and acted neutrally to help ensure free and fair elections.

PTI