The campaign for electoral and political reforms has over 1200 organizations working with it, in addition to support from eminent citizens, media, senior retired Judges, bureaucrats and Police officers. The Conference is being hosted by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR: www.adrindia.org). The three Election Commissioners of India have confirmed their participation. These campaigns came out of the landmark Supreme Court Judgments of May 2, 2002 and March 13, 2003 mandating disclosure of candidates’ financial, educational and criminal background. Previous Conferences were held in Ahmedabad (2003), Bangalore (2004), Patna (2006), and Lucknow (2007).

Since 2002, the major impacts of these campaigns have been on criminalization of politics, and transparency in candidate and political party assets. Leaders of both the BJP and the Indian National Congress have made public statements that they would not field candidates with criminal records even if they were likely to win in the coming Lok Sabha elections. As a result of these campaigns, the percentage of candidates with criminal records has come down from over 20% to about 12% recently. However, a lot still remains to be done. In particular, the exponential growth in the use of money power is a major area of concern since it vitiates democracy. The delegates to this conference will include organizations from all States participating in the National Election Watch (NEW) campaign, eminent citizens, media, senior bureaucrats and Police officials, leaders from the Corporate sector and the political parties. At the same time, anyone interested is welcome to participate. Though electoral and political reforms require a lot of debate and work, in this Conference the focus will be on specific action items:

  1. A set of demands for improving elections and democracy. These include the option of “None of the Above” on the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), barring candidates against whom serious charges have been framed in a Court, disqualifying candidates who indulge in electoral malpractices, and striking off names of people with non bailable warrants from voter rolls. These have emerged from consultations around the country, and have also been endorsed by the Election Commission.
  2. The need for a comprehensive Bill to regulate Political Parties. All leading democracies have such a Bill, we have none. The issues of inner party democracy in political parties, and greater transparency and regulation of political party funding is required.
  3. Specific action plans for the coming general elections under the banner of National Election Watch (NEW), a campaign that is already under way.

A more detailed agenda will be sent later. Please do come and participate and send in your suggestions. Please contact: [email protected] , [email protected] , [email protected] , [email protected] , or [email protected]

Agenda

Hosted by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and National Election Watch (NEW)

Date : January 31, and February 1, 2009
Place :Nehru Centre, Centre Dr. Annie Besant Road, Worli, Mumbai – 400 018.

Chief Guest : Shri N. Gopalaswami, Chief Election Commissioner

Distinguished Speakers include :
Shri Navin Chawla, Election Commissioner,
Dr. Quraishi, Election Commissioner
Shri Manohar Parrikar, former CM, Goa
Sri Suresh Prabhu, MP

Directions:
People coming by Western Railway and Central Railway:
Get down at Dadar station
Come towards west of Dadar station and get taxi and ask for Nehru Centre

Person coming from Santacruz airport:
Get taxi and ask for Nehru Centre

In case you need help on directions, please call :
Ms Mayuri Kadam at 98331-30731 or
Ms Honey Sharma at 98200 99290.

January 31 2009

Registration8.30 amReception, Nehru Centre
National Anthem9:00 
Jawab Do9:05Performance by Anushka
Welcome and Overview of Recent Civil Society Initiatives9.10 amJagdeep Chhokar, former Dean IIM Ahmedabad and Trilochan Sastry, Dean, IIM Bangalore
Chairperson: Aruna Roy, MKSS
   
Political Reforms9:30 amAruna Roy, MKSS
Srinivasan Jain, Managing Editor, NDTV
Abu Ahmed, Former Director, ICSSR
Suresh Prabhu, MP
Manohar Parrikar, former CM GOA
Kumar Ketkar, editor Loksatta
Rajesh Tandon, President PRIA
Chair: Jagdeep Chhokar, ADR
Role of Business and Government10.30 amCyrus Guzder*, Chief Executive AFL
Rajesh Jain, Chief Executive Netcore
Dr Jairaj Phatak, Municipal Commissioner Mumbai
Dr Bishnu Mohapatra, Ford Foundation
Chairman: Ajit Ranade, ADR
Tea/Coffee break11.15 am 
Perspectives I: Role of Media in Elections11.30 amRadhika Bordia, NDTV
Pankaj Pachauri, NDTV
Madhu Kishwar, Senior Fellow, CSDS
B.G. Verghese, Center for Policy and Research
R Jagannathan, editor DNA
Chairperson: Mr. Navin Chawla, EC
Address by CEC12.15 pmN. Gopalaswami, Chief Election Commissioner
Chairman: LC Jain, ex-Member Planning Comm.

Lunch 1.00—2.00PM

Experiences from Recent Elections - I2 pmChattisgarh Election Watch team, Rajasthan Election Watch team
Chairpersons: Chief Electoral Officers, CG and RJ
Experiences from Recent Elections - II2.45 pmDelhi Election Watch, MP Election Watch, Mizoram Election Watch
Chairpersons: Chief Electoral Officers, Delhi and MP
Lessons from 8 years of Election Watch3.30 pmNational Election Watch team
Chairman: Jagdeep Chhokar, ADR
 4.00 pmTea/Coffee and snacks
Information analysis and dissemination4.15 pmSanjay Jain, Google
Jaskirat Singh, Punjab Election Watch
S. Chandrasekhar, IGIDR
Swaminathan, Chief Executive IRIS
Gokul, MapUnity
Chairman: Anil Bairwal, ADR
Important Issues in Electoral Reforms4.45 pmKathyayani Chamaraj, CIVIC, Bangalore
Dr. Meenakshi Bharat, Bangalore
Francis Parmar, Activist, Gujarat
Gerson DaCunha, AGNI
Mumbai Citizen Groups

Cultural Program, 6.30 PM---9.00 PM
February 1 2009

Role of bureaucracy9.00 amD.M. Sukhtankar, vice chairman, AGNI
Amod Kumar, IAS
Chief Electoral Officers of selected States (includes CEO Maharastra)
Sivaramakrishnan, former IAS, CPR
Chair: Mr. Yugandhar, Former IAS officer, Member Planning Commission
Electoral Reforms and Police10.00 amJulio Rebeiro*, former DGP
Satish Sahney, former DGP
Maja Daruwala, CHRI
Y. P. Singh, former IPS officer
Amitabh Thakur, IPS
Anand V Shukla, IPS
Chair: Dr. Quraishi, EC
Coffee Break10:55 – 11:05 
Civil Society11.05 – 12.00 amP.V. Indiresan, former Director, IIT
Maheshanand, Gram Swarajya Samiti
Harish BN, DAKSH
Ramachandra guha, Historian
Arvind Kejriwal, Parivartan
Vinitha Deskmukh, Editor, Intelligent Pune
Chair: Nikhil Dey, MKSS
Resolutions and Recommendations to EC and Parliamentary Committee12 NoonTrilochan Sastry, Ajit Ranade, Anil Bairwal
Chairman: Jagdeep Chhokar, ADR
 1.00 pmLunch

February 1, Concluding Session

Code of Conduct for Civil Society2.00 pmTrilochan Sastry, ADR and Professor IIMB
Chairperson: Sri L C Jain, former member Planning Commission
Sharing Experiences from the States2.15 pmBihar, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Orissa, Karnataka, North-East States, Jharkhand, Orissa, West Bengal, Punjab, Uttarakhand
Chairman:  Anil Bairwal, ADR
Responses from the Election Commission3.30 pmShri Navin Chawla, EC
Chair: Shri L C Jain, former member Planning Commission
Vote of thanks and conclusion4.00 pmAjit Ranade, ADR
Media Meet4.15 pm – 5:00pmTea/Coffee and Snacks and media meet.

For information and response please contact
[email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], or [email protected]

Call: Ms Mayuri Kadam at 98331-30731, Vikas at 98688-85335, Anil at 99993-10100

Press Notes

Mumbai – Jan 28, 2009 -
National Election Watch (NEW), a nationwide campaign comprising of more than 1200 NGO and other citizen led organizations working on electoral reforms, improving democracy and governance in India has stepped up the pressure on political parties to demand accountability from them. It is planning several initiatives with the purpose of bring transparency and accountability in the political system at the 5th National Conference on Electoral and Political Reforms to be held at Nehru Center, Mumbai on Jan 31st and Feb 1st, 2009.

Details about the 5th National Conference on Electoral and Political Reforms:
The delegates to the conference will include civil society organizations, eminent citizens, media, senior bureaucrats and Police officials, leaders from the corporate sector and the political parties. The three Election Commissioners including Mr Gopalaswami, Mr Quraishi, and Mr Navin Chawla, are also planning to attend.

Talking about the conference, Mr Ajit Ranade, a founder member of ADR said, “The election watch teams from all the 28 states are participating in the conference. This will be the first time that we will use existing details on candidates that we have collected from affidavits filed by them over last several years. We will do a systematic analysis of their asset, criminal cases declarations and other information and disseminate the information to voters.”

Delegates include Mr Nikhil Dey and Ms Aruna Roy from Rajasthan, Arvind Kejriwal from Delhi, Ramchandra Guha from Karnataka, LC Jain, Ex-member Planning commission, Mr Yugandhar, ex-member, Planning commission, and several others. Also coming are Mr Manohar Parrikar, former CM Goa, Mr Suresh Prabhu, MP, Dr Jairaj Phatak, Municipal Commissioner Mumbai, Chief Electoral Officers(CEOs) of various states.

Resolutions to be passed at the conference :
National Election Watch (NEW) and its affiliated state election watch groups have been discussing various strategies to implement the following specific changes in our political system.

Talking about the resolutions, Mr Gerson Dacunha, the trustee of AGNI said, “The groups will finalize the specific details on these points and make resolutions which have emerged from consultations around the country. Most of these have been endorsed by the Election Commission. The political parties should listen to the peoples demand and make appropriate changes for their implementation”.

The specific demands of NEW partners are:

  1. Barring candidates against whom criminal charges have been framed in a court. Also disqualifying of candidates who indulge in electoral malpractices, and striking off names of people with non bailable warrants from voter rolls.
  2. Implementation of “None of the Above” – which would include providing a real option for people to vote “Note of the Above” if people do not like any of the contesting candidates. If the “None of the Above” option gets maximum votes, it would mean that all the contesting candidates have been rejected by the voters. This would result in a re-election but the contesting candidates from the previous elections would not be allowed to contest.
  3. Comprehensive bill to regulate political parties to make them more transparent and accountable - All leading democracies have such a Bill, we have none. In particular, the Income statements and sources of income should be mandatorily disclosed for all parties. The issues of inner party democracy in political parties, and greater transparency and regulation of political party funding is required.

Candidates with criminal background from recent elections:
Since 2002, the major impacts of these campaigns have been on criminalization of politics, and transparency in candidate and political party assets.

Speaking about the criminalization of politics, Mr Anil Bairwal, National Coordinator of ADR and National Election watch said, “As a result of the election watch campaigns across the country, the percentage of contesting candidates with criminal records has come down from over 20% to about 12% based on the data from recent elections. Leaders of both the BJP and the Indian National Congress have made public statements that they would not field candidates with criminal records even if they were likely to win in the coming Lok Sabha elections. This however has not been the case. Although the percentage of contesting candidates has come down, the % of elected representative has marginally gone up. A lot more needs to be done. People want able and honest people to lead them and not those against whom criminal charges have been framed in a court.”

Here are consolidated results on the number of MLAs from the recent elections.

 

2008

stateNo of contesting candidatesaffidavits looked into by NEWcandidates with criminal records% of candidates with criminal recordsNo of seats contestedBJP MLAs with criminal recordsINC MLAs with criminal recrdsOther MLAs with criminal recordsNo of candidates who won with criminal records% of MLAs with criminal records
CG1066902768%906501112%
MP3179108419018%230272345423%
DEL8636459114%6991622739%
RJ2194177018911%200713103015%
MZ20620631%40-2138%
Total7508460754912%62949591712520%

The consolidated data for all previous elections is also attached at the back. Launch of National Election Watch website:
ADR and the National Election Watch(NEW) will be launching a new interactive website accessible as www.nationalelectionwatch.com. ADR and the National Election Watch has got data of over 25000 candidates who have contested over last 7 years, based on the information filed by them in their affidavits. All this data will henceforth be available on this website in an easy searchable form. To begin with, there will data on all the current Lok Sabha MPs and from two states that went to polls recently, Delhi and Mizoram. The information on all states on this website will be available in a phase manner within next few months.

Contacts:

Anil Bairwal,
National Coordinator
National Election Watch
Association for Democratic Reforms
National Election Watch
+91 9999310100
[email protected]
 Ajit Ranade
Founder Member
Association for Democratic Reforms
+91 9702215312
[email protected]

About NEW
The National Election Watch (NEW) is a nationwide campaign comprising of more than 1200 NGO and other citizen led organizations working on electoral reforms, improving democracy and governance in India. The National Election Watch is active in almost all states of India and has done election watch for all states and Lok Sabha elections since ADR, along with couple other organizations, won the PIL in Supreme Court in 2002 to making disclosure of educational, financial and criminal background of electoral candidates mandatory.

About ADR
Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) is a Non-Political, Non-Partisan and a Non-Governmental Organization whose PIL filed in Dec 1999 culminated in a Supreme Court order on Mar 13, 2003 requiring disclosure of criminal, financial and educational background of all contesting candidates. Since then ADR has done Election Watches in almost all State Assembly and Lok Sabha elections. It continues to works towards strengthening democracy and governance in India by focusing on fair and transparent electoral and political processes. It is currently conducting election watch is all states going for assembly polls.

You can learn more about ADR at : http://www.adrindia.org

Criminal Candidates

S.NOElection WatchTotal Candi-dates Contested Total Candi-dates Considered by ADR/NEWNo. of Candidates with pending Criminal Cases%age of Candidates with pending cases w.r.t. candidates considered Total Winners (# of Assembly seats)Total Winners with pending cases%age of  winners with pending cases w.r.t. total winners
1Madhaya Pradesh Nov, 2003, Assemby2171753Not AvailableNot Available2303615.65
2Maharastra  Oct 2004, Assembly2678162536622.52888629.86
3Karnataka Dec, 2004, Assembly1715171521112.32245625.00
4Orissa May, 2004, Assembly80280213516.831474127.89
5Bihar  Feb, 2005, Assembly1279119941834.8624310241.97
6Harayana  Feb, 2005, Assembly9835296011.34902325.56
7Jharkhand Feb, 2005, Assembly139051815129.15812530.86
8Bihar Nov, 2005, Assembly213516134512824311949
9West Bengal May, 2006, Assemby1654112921719.222944515.31
10Assam May, 2006, Assembly997698355.04112675.56
11Tamil Nadu May, 2006, Assembly2586136620114.712347732.91
12Pondicherry May, 2006, Assembly218145128.2830413.33
13Manipur Assembly 200730830841.36011.66
14Punjab Assembly 200710436127412.091172017.09
15Uttrakhand Assembly 2007806806597.32701318.57
16Uttar Pradesh Assembly 20076086594088114.8340316038.3
17Himachal Pradesh Assembly 20073363365014.88682130.88
18Meghalaya Assembly 2008None of the candidates contesting the assembly elections had any criminal cases pending against them. The state can have the honour of a Clean Assembly.
19Nagaland Assembly 200821821820.926000.00
20Tripura Assembly 200831331361.926011.67
21Gujarat Assembly 20081268126823318.381824524.73
22Karnataka  Assembly 20008224222421426.332344217.95
23Madhaya Pradesh Assemby 20083179116820817.81230540.00
24Chhattisgarh Assemby 20081066904768.41901112.22
25Rajasthan Assemby 20082194219422510.262003015.00
26Delhi Assembly 20088756459214.26702738.57
27Mizorum Assembly 200820620631.464025.00
28Lok Sabh May, 20045435318247815.0253912022.26
City: 
Mumbai
State : 
Maharashtra
Date: 
31.01.2009
Time: 
10:00 AM
Venue : 
Nehru Centre, Centre Dr. Annie Besant Road, Worli, Mumbai – 400 018.
Topic: 
National Conference on Electoral and Political Reform
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