| Failure to do so should attract penalty, says former Chief Election Commissioner|
‘Voter’s identity cards must for acquiring ration cards, passports, opening a bank account’
Seshan moots online registration for voter’s card
Get on the list: T.N. Seshan (centre), former Chief Election Commissioner at the launch of ‘Vote Bengaluru’ on Saturday. Ruth Manorama, General Secretary, Women’s Voice and Ramasheshan, Chief Electrol Officer, Election Commission of India-Karnataka, are also seen
BANGALORE: Former Chief Election Commissioner T.N. Seshan stressed the need to make it mandatory for all citizens to register their names in the voters’ list and acquire voters’ identity cards. He said failure to do so should attract a penalty.
Launching a campaign “Vote Bengaluru”, an initiative of five citizens’ groups to move from vote-bank politics to issue-based elections, at a function organised here on Saturday, Mr. Seshan said possession of voter’s identity cards should be made mandatory for acquiring ration cards, passports, cooking gas connection and opening a bank account.
At the same time, he did not agree with a suggestion from the audience for making voting mandatory like the system practised in Australia. “Everybody must vote voluntarily and realise the importance of their vote. But at present it is not appropriate to make it mandatory. India is not Australia; Australia’s population is smaller than that of Greater Bangalore,” he said.
He admitted that the common people were not aware of the procedures in registering their name in the voters’ list. “Let alone procedures, he does not even know where to register,” he said, and suggested that online registration system should be introduced in Karnataka.
Mr. Seshan, who went by the rule book in strictly enforcing the model code of conduct, mooted the concept of government-funding of election expenses of candidates as an initiative to check poll corruption. Such a system would reduce poll-related corruption which would have a cascading effect on other issues related to administration. “We must know that democracy is a not a cheap alternative. It comes with a price,” he said.
Expressing concern over the trend of youngsters distancing themselves from elections, he called for creating political awareness among youngsters and persuading them to exercise their franchise. He concluded his speech with: “When you catch a corrupt politician, squash him like you squash a cockroach in the kitchen.”
Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Seshan said people should give importance to good governance while choosing their candidates instead of merely going by party labels. “After elections, people should call up the victorious candidates to ask them about implementation of their promises regarding good governance,” he said.
He refused to comment on the present political situation in Karnataka, but remarked that: “Politics is descending to all kinds of depths. Coalition politics is still at an adolescent stage in Karnataka.”
Karnataka Chief Electoral Officer R. Ramasheshan observed that clean and fault-free electoral roles formed the corner stone of electoral reforms. But it was difficult to maintain perfect electoral roles in urban areas as residents frequently shifted their addresses especially due to change in work places. The voters’ list would get outdated even before its finalisation in cities. He said he was planning to use Geographical Information System (GIS)-based maps to intersperse houses with names of residents for accurate identification. Recipient of the Right Livelihood award, Ruth Manorama, also spoke on the occasion.
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