Former CEC Navin Chawla says Parliament full of 'rich people', questions whether they represent 'voice of the people'

Former chief election commissioner of India Navin Chawla on Saturday posed several questions regarding the election processes in the country, ranging from conflict of interest to need for reforms.

Press Trust of India January 27, 2019 09:27:11 IST
Former CEC Navin Chawla says Parliament full of 'rich people', questions whether they represent 'voice of the people'
  • Navin Chawla also expressed concern over the use of money and muscle power in elections.

  • He made the statement at the Jaipur Literature Festival.

  • On the issue of EVMs, he said the people should have faith in the system.

Jaipur: Former chief election commissioner of India Navin Chawla on Saturday posed several questions regarding the election processes in the country, ranging from conflict of interest to need for reforms.

Speaking at the Jaipur Literature Festival, Chawla said, "Our Parliament consists of extremely rich people. Many of them are industrialists and businessmen. They find themselves on parliamentary committees, exactly those places where there is conflict of interest. Are those people in Parliament representing the voice of the people?"

Without taking any names, the former CEC said, "A current fugitive, now, was once put in the civil aviation ministry's parliamentary committee. The supposed rationale was that the man had domain expertise. We are on the way to becoming a rich and powerful Parliament, but one should ask if this is the voice of the people?" he asked the audience.

Former CEC Navin Chawla says Parliament full of rich people questions whether they represent voice of the people

File photo of the Parliament of India.Twitter @loksabhatv

He expressed concern over the use of money and muscle power in elections. After his responsibility as CEC was over, one of the candidates had told him that he had spent Rs 50 crore for the Lok Sabha elections, while another had spent Rs 72 crore, Chawla said, pointing out that the expenditure limit for the parliamentary election is Rs 70 lakh per candidate.

Chawla, who became India's 16th Chief Election Commissioner in 2009, said the government's attitude in tackling unaccounted cash used in elections was critical. He stressed the need for greater participation of women in elections and expressed disappointment over the number of women candidates being given tickets by political parties.

Chawla said the Chief Election Commissioner should be appointed with the consensus of the prime minister, the Leader of the Opposition and the Chief Justice of India.

He also spoke on electoral reforms and his worries about the system. Explaining the importance of every vote, he referred to the example of present Rajasthan Assembly Speaker CP Joshi who had lost the Assembly election in 2008 by just one vote.

"It is remarkable that candidates accept results irrespective of win or loss. That is the great strength (of our system)," he said.

Later, Chawla spoke on the difficulty of conducting elections in Naxal and mountainous areas.

On the issue of EVMs, he said the people should have faith in the system.

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