Election Campaign & Languages in India

The campaign is the period when the political parties put forward their candidates and arguments with which they hope to persuade people to vote for their candidates and parties. Candidates are given a week to put forward their nominations. These are scrutinized by the Returning Officers and if not found to be in order can be rejected after a summary hearing. Valid nominated candidates can withdraw within two days after nominations have been scrutinized. The official campaign lasts at least two weeks from the drawing up of the list of nominated candidates, and officially ends 48 hours before polling closes. During the election campaign the political parties and contesting candidates are expected to abide by a Model Code of Conduct evolved by the Election Commission on the basis of a consensus among political parties. The model Code lays down broad guidelines as to how the political parties and candidates should conduct themselves during the election campaign. It is intended to maintain the election campaign on healthy lines, avoid clashes and conflicts between political parties or their supporters and to ensure peace and order during the campaign period and thereafter, until the results are declared. The model code also prescribes guidelines for the ruling party either at the Centre or in the State to ensure that a level field is maintained and that no cause is given for any complaint that the ruling party has used its official position for the purposes of its election campaign. Once an election has been called, parties issue manifestos detailing the programmes they wish to implement if elected to government, the strengths of their leaders, and the failures of opposing parties and their leaders. Slogans are used to popularise and identify parties and issues, and pamphlets and posters distributed to the electorate. Rallies and meetings where the candidates try to persuade, cajole and enthuse supporters, and denigrate opponents, are held throughout the constituencies. Personal appeals and promises of reforms are made. Party symbols abound, printed on posters and placards.

Polling Days

Polling is normally held on a number of different days in different constituencies, to enable the security forces and those monitoring the elections to keep law and order and ensure that voting during the elections is fair.

Ballot Papers & Symbols

After nomination of candidates is complete, a list of competing candidates is prepared by the Returning Officer, and ballot papers are printed. Ballot papers are printed with the names of the candidates (in languages set by the Election Commission) and the symbols allotted to each of the candidates. Candidates of recognised Parties are allotted their Party symbols.

Procedure of Casting Votes

Voting is by secret ballot. Polling stations are usually set up in public institutions, such as schools and community halls. To enable as many electors as possible to vote, the officials of the Election Commission try to ensure that there is a polling station within 2km of every voter, and that no polling station should have to deal with more than 1200 voters. Each polling station is open for at least 8 hours on the day of the election. On entering the polling station, the elector is checked against the Electoral Roll, and allocated a ballot paper. The elector votes by marking the ballot paper with a rubber stamp on or near the symbol of the candidate of his choice, inside a screened compartment in the polling station. The voter then folds the ballot paper and inserts it in a common ballot box which is kept in full view of the Presiding Officer and polling agents of the candidates. This marking system eliminates the possibility of ballot papers being surreptitiously taken out of the polling station or not being put in the ballot box.

Political Parties and Elections

Political parties are an established part of modern mass democracy, and the conduct of elections in India is largely dependent on the behaviour of political parties. Political parties have to be registered with the Election Commission. The Commission determines whether the party is structured and committed to principles of democracy, secularism and socialism in accordance with the Indian Constitution and would uphold the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India. Parties are expected to hold organisational elections and have a written constitution. The Anti-defection law, passed in 1985, prevents MPs or MLAs elected as candidates from one party forming or joining a new party, unless they comprise more than one-third of the original party in the legislature.

According to certain criteria, set by the Election Commission regarding the length of political activity and success in elections, parties are categorised by the Commission as National or State parties, or simply declared registered unrecognised parties. Party symbols enable illiterate voters to identify the candidate of the party they wish to vote for. National parties are given a symbol that is for their use only, throughout the country. State parties have the sole use of a symbol in the state in which they are recognised as such. Indian Polity and Governance’159 Registered unrecognised parties can choose a symbol from a selection of ‘free’ symbols. There are tight legal limits on the amount of money a candidate can spend during the election campaign.

Supervision of Elections and observers

The Election Commission appoints a large number of Observers to ensure that the campaign is conducted fairly, and that people are free to vote as they choose. Election expenditure Observers keeps a check on the amount that each candidate and party spends on the election.

The Electronic Voting Machine

Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) retains all the characteristics of voting by ballot papers, while making polling a lot more expedient. Being fast and absolutely reliable, the EVM saves considerable time, money and manpower. And, of course, helps maintain total voting secrecy without the use of ballot papers. The EVM is 100 per cent tamper proof. And, at the end of the polling, just press a button and there you have the results.

Languages in India

The Indian languages belong to several language families. The major language families are the Indo-Aryan languages spoken by 73ft of the Indians and the Dravidian languages are spoken by 24ft of the people. Other languages spoken in India belong to the Austroasiatic, Tibeto-Burman and a few minor language families. The individual states can legislature demographics. Article 345 of the Constitution authorizes the states of Indian state can then use in all dealings with all branches of the local, state and federal governments) either Hindi or any one or more of the languages spoken in that state. Until the Twenty-First Amendment of the Constitution in 1967, the country Seventy-First Amendment provided for the inclusion of Sindhi, Konkani, Maithili and Nepali, thereby increasing the number of are mostly drawn on socio-linguistic lines, are free to decide their own language for internal administration and education. In 2004, the Government of India declared that languages that meet certain requirements could be accorded the status of a ‘Classical Language in India’. Languages thus far declared to be Classical are Tamil (in 2004), Sanskrit (in 2005), Telugu (in 2008), Kannada (in 2008), Malayalam (in 2013) and Odiya (in 2014).

Indian Polity and Governance