India is a democracy where the people elect their representatives to the Parliament and the State Legislative Assemblies. These elections are conducted by the Election Commission of India, which is an independent constitutional body. The elections are held in accordance with the law and the rules framed by the Election Commission. The elections are also very expensive, as they involve various costs such as organizing polling stations, EVM transportation, deploying security, conducting voter education, and running political campaigns.
According to a report by the Centre for Media Studies, the 2019 Lok Sabha elections were the most expensive in the world, with an estimated expenditure of $8.6 billion. The report also stated that the average cost of conducting an election for a Lok Sabha seat was Rs 60.59 crore, while the average cost of conducting an election for an Assembly seat was Rs 28.76 crore. These figures show how much public money is spent on holding elections in India.
However, some politicians misuse this public money by resigning from their elected seats and re-contesting from another constituency. This practice not only violates the trust of the voters who elected them but also forces the Election Commission to hold by-elections, which are additional elections to fill the vacant seats. By-elections are also costly and time-consuming, as they require the same process and resources as the general elections.
There are various reasons why politicians resign and re-elect from another constituency. Some of them are:
- To switch parties: Some politicians change their political allegiance and join another party, either due to ideological differences, personal ambitions, or inducements. This may result in their disqualification from their original party and their elected seat, as per the anti-defection law. To retain their membership in the new party and the legislative body, they may resign and re-contest from another constituency where the new party has a stronghold or a better chance of winning.
- To gain more power or prestige: Some politicians aspire to hold higher offices or positions, such as the Chief Minister, the Speaker, or the Cabinet Minister. To achieve their goals, they may resign and re-contest from another constituency where they have more support or popularity. They may also do so to please their party leaders or allies, who may offer them such posts in exchange for their loyalty or cooperation.
- To serve personal or family interests: Some politicians may have personal or family reasons to resign and re-elect from another constituency. For instance, they may want to move closer to their hometown or state, or they may want to make way for their relatives or friends to contest from their original constituency.
Whatever the reasons may be, the practice of resigning and re-electing is detrimental to the democratic system and the public interest. It undermines the sanctity and stability of the electoral process, as it creates uncertainty and confusion among the voters and the candidates. It also wastes public money and resources, as it necessitates the holding of by-elections, which are an unnecessary burden on the exchequer and the Election Commission. It also affects the functioning and efficiency of the legislative bodies, as it causes frequent vacancies and disruptions in their proceedings.
Need to curb this practice and ensure that the politicians respect their mandate and serve their full term. Some possible measures to prevent or discourage the politicians from resigning and re-electing are:
- Imposing a penalty or a fine on the politicians who resign and re-contest from another constituency, which may be equivalent to the cost of holding the by-election or a percentage of their salary or assets.
- Barring the politicians who resign and re-contest from another constituency from holding any office or position in the legislative body or the government for a certain period of time, such as one year or the remainder of their original term.
- Restricting the frequency and the number of by-elections that can be held in a year or in a term, and filling the vacant seats by other means, such as nomination or appointment by the President or the Governor, or by the next runner-up in the previous election.
- Strengthening the anti-defection law and the code of conduct for the politicians, and ensuring their strict enforcement and compliance by the Election Commission and the courts.
These measures may help to deter the politicians from resigning and re-electing and to preserve the integrity and accountability of the electoral system. They may also help to save the public money and resources and to improve the governance and the development of the country.