The twin day seminar on ‘Electoral Reforms’ organized by the Department of Political Science of Maharaja Agrasen College was indeed a commendable one. On the first day we got an opportunity to listen to and interact with renowned Professor MP Singh. His vast academic experience was on display when he spoke on a range of topics which included intra-party democracy, state funding of elections, appointment of the election commissioner & on direct democracy’s features like referendum, initiative and recall. He even elaborated on how India had gone from being a federal state to a quasi federal and now to a quasi con-federal state. I got the opportunity to question him on subjects like the economic feasibility of the idea of state funding of elections, relationship between individual centric and party oriented politics and on the proposal of having a cross political collegium while appointing the Chief Election Commissioner.
On the second day the guest speaker was none other than Mr KJ Rao, former adviser to the Election Commission of India. He is hailed as the hero of the 2002 Assembly Elections of J&K and 2005 Assembly Elections of Bihar. He was also appointed as an international observer for the 2004 Presidential Elections of USA. Mr Rao is basically remembered for his administrative acumen and how he managed to identify bogus and fake voters. During the course of his speech Mr Rao shared with us numerous anecdotes of his long and celebrated bureaucratic career. He told us the practical problems associated with conducting free and fair elections. He recalled how he took on the might of criminals contesting polls and spoke on the need for elimination of muscle and money power from politics. I again got an opportunity to do a bit of quizzing and this time my query was related to restoring or rather ensuring equilibrium among the electorate by providing different communities with the same electoral strength and influence by means of a mathematical formula which equalizes the number of votes cast by different castes, communities and factions.