Can we conduct Elections in Pandemic?
The entire world is suffering from the worst pandemic caused by COVID-19 which has made a big impact around the world economically and as well as by taking the lives of common people. Many countries including US and India are unable to come back to its normal stage and the people are still battling for their survival. The world economy has been completely down, many people may have the probability of losing their jobs and even the developed countries are facing the same issue. During this time, conducting elections will be the biggest challenge for the government and the election commission and in a democratic country like India, it is mandatory to conduct elections for 5 years. We will discuss about the topic further in the study.
Elections are the game changers in a democratic country. Any party can come into power at any time if they get the supports of people and subsequently getting the maximum number of votes. The voters are the deciders in this game and the winner is judged by the maximum number of constituencies that an individual party captures. Elections is the only weapon of the people against the government and these elections must be conducted for once in every 5 years in a democratic country as per the guidelines given in the constitution and it is the duty of the election commission to conduct elections.
The present world is unstable and still not yet recovered completely from the COVID 19 virus, conducting elections during such pandemic may be like giving an easy path for the spread of virus. India is the largest democratic country in the world with the 2nd highest population in the world of nearly 130 crore people and conducting elections in India is not an easy task. The parliament elections were held last year and the BJP government won with a big majority. The tenure of the government in states like Tamil Nadu, Assam, Kerala, West Bengal, Bihar etc. Will get over in some months and the government of the state should think of the elections after the pandemic is controlled. But some countries like Singapore, South Korea has conducted elections safely even during this pandemic time and it should be noted that these 2 countries are very small in population compared to India.
WHEN CAN ELECTIONS BE POSTPONED?
Only in very rarest of rare circumstances elections can by postponed like the election commission postponed the elections of Jammu & Kashmir, and Punjab due to militancy. The pandemic situation now is nearly similar to that situation but not worse than that of militancy and conducting elections during this crisis may be taking high risks in the live of the voters. Legislative Elections can be postponed at the time of emergency under the article 172(1) of the Indian constitution for a period of one year, which may be extended by the parliament for a period of 6 months after the proclamation of emergency.
Another possibility is, the President's rule can be imposed in the state under article 356(1) of the Indian constitution by a report from the governor of the state if the state failed to function in accordance to the Indian constitution (failure of constitutional machinery). In 1991, the Tamil Nadu state legislature (DMK government) was dismissed by the former Prime Minister of India Chandra Shekar due to the failure of constitutional machinery under article 356 of the Indian constitution and the President’s rule was imposed in the state. The elections were held within the time period of 6 months and a new ADMK government was formed in the state.
THE DIFFICULTIES TO BE FACED
At present in India, the spread of the corona virus is in a rapid speed which may take some time to lower the spread of virus and elections during this time will lead to the flow of virus easily if proper precautionary measures are not followed. The Tenure of the current Bihar government will end in the month of November this year and the state election should be conducted before that. Bihar has COVID 19 cases in all of its districts with more than 50,000 cases and still getting increased day by day and there is a possibility of risk of spreading the virus if elections are conducted during this time. Not only state elections, even conducting by – elections will lead to an increase in the spread to the virus.
CAMPAIGNS THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA
Social media has been more powerful in today's life. Many people have their own accounts in the social media platforms and it has been a basic medium of communication today. We might have seen that many political leaders have adopted the technological change in the society and they also have their official social media account like Twitter, Facebook etc. in order to reach the youth population effectively since majority of the social media's are accessed by the youths. This would be very helpful for attracting the youngsters which alternatively increases the vote bank of the party.
In USA, political parties have been successful in their elections by campaigning through social media and it has been a major source for increasing their vote bank and popularity. Instead of campaigning in the roads, this would be more effective and also this will be the only way for the political parties for campaigning during the pandemic. Since the spread is not completely controlled globally, the use of social medias will be more effective and beneficial to all the parties to express their political obligations and supports.
HOW CAN CAMPAIGN BE DONE IN SOCIAL MEDIAS?
The best way of communicating through social media is by posting and sharing memes in such a way that it should not defame or abuse others. Memes have been the best way to convey an information easily to the active youths in social medias.
Political leaders can also upload a video stating all the benefits of their party and can also explain about the measures for the development of the state if their party capture the rule in the state.
The meme pages or any official page of the party can also conduct online polls through which they can check their popularity and strength inn social media.
There must be some safety precautions to be followed by the voters like wearing mask, hand gloves, using hand sanitizer, maintaining social distancing etc. And the election commissioner should also increase the number of polling booths in order to conduct safe elections. Senior citizens must be given special attention for polling in election since they may be weak enough to recover from the virus if tested positive. South Korea successfully conducted their parliament elections in the month of April becoming the 1st country to conduct elections during the pandemic and the country imposed strict rules in order to control the spread of virus during the time of election and pooled a historic 66.2% votes in the last 28 years and sets out to be a good example. The election commission should also spread positive awareness among the public so that, it develops a positivity in the minds of the public and the public will come forward to poll their votes.
Till date, there is no vaccine is in the market for the COVID-19 and the world scientists and science institutions are giving their best to find a vaccine for the virus. Even India has found a vaccine named COVAXIN which is under the test of human trials. Elections conducted with proper precautions and safety standards are better since permanent lockdown may ruin the livelihood of the people and the government and public offices should simultaneously function in order to run the state and no state should not fail to abide to the constitution. There is no other way to conduct elections in pandemic and election happens only if there is any vaccine found to completely destroy the COVID-19 virus. Let's all hope for the vaccine for the COVID-19 virus so that we will return to our lifestyle and can enjoy our life as usual by which elections can also be conducted as usual.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
This blog has been authored by Umamaheshwaran R., who is a B.C.A., LL.B. (Hons.) student at The Tamil Nadu Dr. Ambedkar Law University (School of Excellence in Law), Chennai.
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