Demand to bring in major electoral reforms
New Delhi: Civil Society members on Saturday batted for major electoral reforms, including putting a check on freebies to lure voters, and asked political parties to be more transparent and accountable to voters.
These were part of recommendations made by civil society organisations during a two-day consultation on 'Inclusive voting and electoral participation' by Election Commission in association with the UNDP here.
They also called for dealing severely with proxy voting and bringing in an effective legislation against paid news and paid channels.
It was also recommended to have a national level collaboration with civil society organisations taking into account their networking abilities.
In his valedictory address, Chief Election Commissioner VS Sampath said such organisations can lend a helping hand in fighting voter apathy especially in urban areas.
"This workshop has come as a boon for us when we are looking at some steps to increase voter participation and inclusive elections," he said, admitting possibility of civil society support in bridging the missing links in this regard.
Sampath said for this CSOs should have "apolitical functioning and be uncompromising".
Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi said "politically conscious civil society is the backbone of a healthy democracy" and felt the need for collaborating with it as the EC cannot do the work of inclusive voter participation alone by itself.
Caitlin Wiesen, United Nations Development Programme's Resident Representative and Country Director, said the EC and Civil Society need to partner to increase women participation in elections and reduce their marginalisation from politics.
She also called for an enabling constitutional provision for ensuring that a greater number of women contest elections, besides reducing voter apathy and include marginalised sections and homeless.