Right to recall could make governments fall
Of the two proposals currently under debate to cleanse our electoral system of tainted or under-performing politicians, I’d for starters go with the right to reject rather than the right to recall. The corrective should work if dovetailed with a strongly enforced screening process to keep out undeserving ticket-seekers.
Straightaway granting the electorate the right to recall their representatives in Parliament could cause more problems than it will actually solve. Consider the following: the concept is essentially western and doable only in smaller constituencies rather than those of the size in India; what number (or percentage) of no-trust voters will send an MP packing midway through his tenure; recurring cost of resultant by-polls, cross-checking credentials of signatories and whether they backed the demand for recall on their own volition.
The last mentioned process will be more complex. It isn’t uncommon for Indians to append signatures without knowing what they actually endorsed. Vested interests are known to beguile, lure or mislead people in the countryside.
Moreover, who’d decide whether an MP has performed or not? Who’d ensure the option isn’t misused by candidates defeated by narrow margins? Isn’t there a danger of elected representatives exhausting their terms fighting such complaints rather than serving the people?
The deeply partisan nature of India’s polity will expose the law of recall to frequent abuse, what with the possibility of a MP’s recall causing a government’s fall. Let us not forget the Vajpayee government fell in 1999 for want of one vote.
One cannot also rush into a decision without finding answers to attendant questions of law. Can an MP facing a no-trust motion in his constituency exercise his vote in Parliament to save or send out a government? What if he/she gets re-elected in the concomitant by-poll?
Let’s debate and see what variety of views emerge in response to this prognosis? Maybe the recall right could be first tested in smaller elected bodies such as Municipal Councils and Panchayats.