Q1: What is meant by 'seats' in an election? Explain with an example.
- In India, for the Lok Sabha election, the country is divided into 543 constituencies.
- Similarly, each state is divided into a specific number of assembly constituencies. The parliamentary constituency has several assembly constituencies within it.
- The same principle applies to Panchayat and municipal elections.
- Each village or town is divided into several 'wards' that are like constituencies. Each ward elects one member of the village or the urban local body. Sometimes these constituencies are counted as 'seats' for each constituency represents one seat in the assembly.
Example: When we say a party has won 20 seats. It means that candidates of that party won in 20 assembly constituencies in the state and that it has 20 MLAs in the state assembly.
Q2: Define the following:
(a) Universal Adult Franchise
(b) Election Photo Identify Card
(c) Voter's ListAnswer
(a) Universal Adult Franchise: It is a right granted to all adults-men or women, rich or poor, white or black, to vote for their representatives to run the government. In practice, it means that everyone should have one vote, and each vote should have equal value.
(b) Election Photo Identify Card: This is introduced by the government to stop rigging. The voters are required to carry this card when they go out to vote so that no one can vote for someone else. The government has tried to give this card to every person on the voter list. But the card is not yet compulsory for voting.
(c) Voter's List: In a democratic election, the list of those who are eligible to vote is prepared much before the election and given to everyone. This list is officially called the electoral roll and is commonly known as the voters' List.
Q3: Mention the eligibility for Indian citizens to be the member of Parliament.
- The constitution stipulates that only Indian citizens of not less than 25 years of age are qualified to be the members of Lok Sabha.
- Similarly, only Indian citizens of not less than 30 years of age may be members of the Rajya Sabha.
- The Parliament may prescribe additional qualifications under Article 84 of the Constitution.
- But a citizen is disqualified to become a member of the Parliament:
(a) If he/she holds an office of profit under the union of a state government.
(b) If he/she is declared to be of unsound mind by a court.
(c) If he/she is a bankrupt.
(d) If he/she has lost his Indian citizenship through voluntary renunciation or through any other means.
(e) If he/she has any criminal records.
Q4: Explain the role of the Election Commission in free and fair elections. [CBSE 2013]
Ans: Functions of the Election Commission of India:
- Allotment of Election Symbols: The political parties of national standing are allotted permanent election symbols. These symbols help even an ordinary man to recognize the different parties instantly.
- Preparation of Electoral Rolls: Electoral Rolls are prepared in which the name, father’s name, age, and sex of the voters are clearly mentioned.
- Delimitation of Constituencies: The whole area where elections are held, is divided into so many clear-cut constituencies so that elections are held in an organized way.
- Fixing the Election Dates: The Election date is announced so that the voters could easily cast their votes on that particular date.
- Scrutiny (careful examination) of Nomination Papers: The candidates willing to contest the elections have to file the nominations up to a particular date. Then the Election Commission scrutinizes their papers and accepts or rejects the nomination papers as the case: may be.
- Checking Undue Interference of the Party-in-Power: The important duty of the Election Commission is to see that the party in power does in no way take advantage over other parties or individuals.
Q5: With reference to ‘electoral constituencies’, state how the elections are held in India.
- For elections, the country is divided into different areas called ‘electoral constituencies’.
- The voters who live in an area elect one representative.
- For the Lok Sabha elections, the country is divided into 543 constituencies. The representative elected from each constituency is called a Member of Parliament (MP).
- Similarly, each state is divided into Assembly constituencies. In this case, the elected representative is called the Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA).
Q6: Why is there no educational qualification prescribed for the political leaders who hold such an important position in governing the country?
- Educational qualifications are not relevant to all kinds of jobs. Just as a cricketer needs an ability to play well, irrespective of educational qualification, similarly the relevant qualification for an MLA or an MP is the ability to understand people’s concerns, problems, and to represent their interests.
- In our country, putting an educational qualification would go against the spirit of democracy as it would mean depriving a majority of the country’s citizens of the right to contest elections.
Example: If graduation is made a compulsory qualification, then 90 per cent of the citizens will become ineligible to contest elections.
Q7: How can you say that very few Election Commissions in the world have such wide-ranging powers as the Election Commission of India? [Important]
- Election Commission takes decisions on every aspect of conduct and control of elections.
- It implements the code of conduct and punishes any candidate or party that violates it.
- During the election period, the EC can order the government to follow some guidelines, to prevent the use and misuse of governmental power to enhance its chances to win elections, or to transfer some government officials.
- When on election duty, government officers work under the control of the EC and not the government.
Q8: Explain how the outcome of elections is a final test of free and fair elections.
- The ruling parties routinely lose elections in India both at the national and state level. In fact, in every two out of the three elections held so far, the ruling party lost.
- In the US, an incumbent or ‘sitting’ elected representative rarely loses an election. In India, about half of the sitting MPs or MLAs lose elections.
- Candidates who are known to have spent a lot of money on ‘buying votes’ and those with known criminal connections often lose elections.
Q9: What are the demerits of political competition? [V. Important]
Ans. The political competition has many demerits:
(i) It creates a sense of disunity and factionalism in every locality. Different political parties and leaders often level allegations against one another. Parties and candidates often use dirty tricks to win elections.
(ii) This pressure to win electoral fights does not allow sensible long-term policies to be formulated.
(iii) Some good people who wish to serve the country do not enter this area as they do not like to be dragged into unhealthy competition.
Q10: Explain the term constituency. Give reasons why the system of reserved constituencies was introduced by our constitution-makers. [CBSE 2010]
- The country is divided into different areas for the purposes of elections. These are called ‘constituencies’. The voters who live in an area elect one representative.
- For the Lok Sabha elections, the country is divided into 543 constituencies. The representative elected is called an MP.
- Similarly, each state is divided into a specific number of assembly constituencies. In this case, the elected representative is called an MLA.
- To give protection to the weaker section, the makers of our constitution thought of reserved constituencies. These are reserved for people who belong to SC or ST. The Lok Sabha has 79 reserved seats for SCs and 41 for STs.
Q11: Enumerate any four challenges to free and fair elections. [2011 (T-2)]
- Inclusion of false names and exclusion of genuine names in the voter's list.
- Misuse of government facilities and officials in the ruling party.
- Excessive use of money by rich candidates and big parties.
- Intimidation of voters and rigging on the polling day.
Q12: Explain any four powers enjoyed by Election Commission in India. [2011 (T-2)]
- Election Commission takes decisions on every aspect of conduct and control of elections from the announcement of elections to the declaration of results.
- It implements the code of conduct and punishes any candidate or party that violates it.
- During Elections EC can order the government to follow some guidelines to use/misuse governmental power, its chances to win.
- When on election duty, government officials work under the control of the EC.
Q13: What is Secret Ballot System? Give three reasons why Secret Ballot System is good. [2011 (T-2)]
Ans. A ballot paper is a sheet of paper on which the names of the contesting candidates along with party names and symbols are listed.
Picture indicating a Ballot Paper
Secret Ballot System is good because:
- The voter can vote in securities.
- The voter feels secure, safe, and fearless.
- The voter is free of threat and coercion.
Q14: How does our Election Law regulate campaigns? [2011 (T-2)]
- Election campaigns take place to have a free and open discussion about who is a better representative, which party will make a better government, or what is a good policy.
- These campaigns take place for a two-week period between the announcement of the final list of candidates and the date of polling.
- During this period, the candidates contact their voters, political leaders address election meetings and political parties mobilize their supporters.
Q15: What are the conditions which make an election democratic? [2011 (T-2)]
- The presence of an independent and very powerful Election Commission (EC). It enjoys the same kind of independence that the judiciary does.
- The Chief Election Commissioner is not answerable to the President or the government.
- It is virtually impossible to remove the CEC, once he is appointed.
- When election officials come to the opinion that polling was not fair in some booths or even in an entire constituency, they order a repoll.
Q16: What are some of the activities undertaken by political parties to carry out election campaigns? Mention any three activities.[CBSE 2010]
- In election campaigns, political parties try to focus public attention on some big issues.
Example: The Congress party led by Indira Gandhi gave the slogan of "Gharibi Hatao" in the Lok Sabha elections of 1971. "Save Democracy" was the slogan of the Janata Party in the Lok Sabha election of 1977.
- Secondly, political leaders contact their voters, address election meetings, promise to remove the grievances of the people.
- Thirdly, support of media – TV Channels and newspaper columns – is also taken by the political parties to further their cause to gather more votes.