Ex-Chief Election Commissioner JM Lyngdoh wants to change ‘first past the post’ electoral system

Shillong(PTI): Holding that the present system of elections in which individuals contest for public office has certain flaws, former Chief Election Commissioner JM Lyngdoh has instead advocated the concept of proportional representation for political parties based on the percentage of votes they win.

Referring to the ceiling on election expenditure set by Election Commission for those fighting elections, Lyngdoh said that has become a farce as candidates spend much more than the prescribed limit.

“With the kind of system of voting, it (the ceiling) has no relevance, no value at all,” he told PTI here while making a case for doing away with the practice of candidates fighting elections.

“That’s why proportional representation is a much better way of doing things. Won’t spend that much money. Political parties will fight among themselves. Candidates will not be fighting,” said Lyngdoh, who was at the helm of EC between 2001 and 2004. He indicated that the move would bring down the influence of money power in elections.

Asked if his proposed system will work, he said: “I don’t see why not. We can try it out.” He added that, to start with, proportional representation can be given based on some percentage.

Lyngdoh, meanwhile, did not favour any system of online voting saying, “We already have so much cheating; it will become that much more (if online voting is introduced).” Talking about “communal riots” breaking out in the run-up to polls and “everybody abusing everybody else (in the last Lok Sabha elections)”, he asserted that the EC needs to be strong as “things have become very rough”.

Unless EC is firm, it will not be able to control things at all, he added. As for his suggestions on increasing the turnout for polls, Lyngdoh said: “Why do you want to enhance voter percentage? Those who want to vote, will vote; those who don’t want to vote, will not. Why should we interfere with that?”