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The Recent Assembly Polls – Implications for Rajya Sabha and Presidential elections

May 30th, 2011 No comments

By Rohit and Jhalak

Some Rajya Sabha seats will be contested over the next year.  The Presidential elections are also scheduled to be held in 2012.  The recent assembly elections has implications for both these elections.  The Presidential elections will depend on the strenght in the assemblies, in Lok Sabha and in Rajya Sabha (which could change over the next year). 

Implications for Rajya Sabha Elections

The composition of Rajya Sabha may undergo some changes.  A total of 12 Rajya Sabha seats are up for election in 2011.  This includes 6 seats from West Bengal, 3 from Gujarat and 1 each from Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Goa.  Another 65 seats, across 18 states, go for elections in early 2012.  The largest chunk of these seats comes from UP(10), followed by Andhra Pradesh(6), Bihar(6) and Maharashtra(6).

Since Rajya Sabha members are elected by the elected members of the Legislative Assembly of the State, a change in the composition of the assembly can affect the election outcome.  We used the current assembly compositions to work out scenarios for Rajya Sabha in 2011 and 2012.  There could be alliances between parties for the Rajya Sabha elections, so we have estimated a range for each grouping (Scenario I and II) for 2012.  See Notes [1] and [2]. 

Parties/ Coalitions 2010 Scenario 2011 Scenario 2012
      I II
UPA 89 94 95 97
NDA 65 65 67 66
Left 22 19 14 14
BSP 18 18 19 19
SP 5 5 6 6
AIADMK 4 5 5 5
BJD 6 6 5 5
Other parties 18 18 20 19
Independent 6 6 5 5
Nominated 8 9 9 9
Total 241 245 245 245

Implications for the election of the President

The President is elected in accordance with the provisions of Article 54 and 55 of the Constitution.  The electorate consists of the elected members of Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha and all Legislative Assemblies.  Each MP/ MLA’s vote has a pre-determined value based on the population they represent.  The election is held in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of a single transferable vote.  The winning candidate must secure at least 50% of the total value of votes polled. (For details, refer to this Election Commission document).  There is no change in the Lok Sabha composition (unless there are bye-elections).

Position in Legislative Assemblies

After the recent round of assembly elections, the all-India MLA count adds up to:

UPA 1613
NDA 1106
Left 205
BSP 246
AIADMK 155
BJD 103
SP 95
Others 597

The above numbers can now be used to estimate the value of votes polled by each coalition. See Note [3]:

Value of votes cast Scenario – 1 Scenario – 2
UPA 439,437 440,853
NDA 307,737 307,029
Left 51,646 51,646
BSP 77,243 77,243
SP 38,531 38,531
AIADMK 36,392 36,392
BJD 28,799 28,799
Others 119,097 118,389
Total 1,098,882 1,098,882
Min. to be elected 549,442 549,442

The UPA has the highest value of votes polled but the figure is not sufficient to get its candidate elected.  Assuming that there are at most three candidates with significant support (UPA, NDA, and Left/Third Front), the winner will be the one who manages to bridge the gap with second preference votes.  On this factor, the UPA backed candidate is likely to hold the edge over others. 

Notes:

[1] At present, there are four vacant seats in Rajya Sabha (1 Maharashtra, 1 TN, 1 WB and 1 Nominated).  It is assumed that all these seats are filled up in 2011.

[2] Three of the 11 nominated members in the current Rajya Sabha have declared their party affiliation as INC.  These have been included in the UPA count in the above analysis.  For the sake of simplicity, it is assumed that members who get nominated in 2011/ 12 are not aligned to any party/ coalition.

[3] The above analysis is based on the assumption that the next set of assembly elections happen after the Presidential election.

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Declaration of Assets: New rules for bureaucrats

May 20th, 2011 3 comments

By Rohit and Aakanksha

In February this year, Bihar made it mandatory for its employees to declare their assets.  The new guidelines prescribe that departmental proceedings would be initiated against those who fail to submit these details.  Information filed by employees is now being displayed online.  For instance, click here to see information put out by the Department of Agriculture.

Some other states have also followed suit.  Rajasthan became the second state to do so.  Asset details of employees have been posted on the Department of Personnel website. MP and Meghalaya have announced their intention to implement similar changes.

The central government too has decided to put the asset details of All India Service and other Group A officers in the public domain.  Employees of the central government are governed by the Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1964.  Under these rules, civil servants are required to file details of their assets on a periodic basis.  However, until now the information provided by employees was held in a fiduciary capacity and kept confidential.  With the new order coming in, this information will now be available to the public.  To ensure compliance, the government has decided that defaulters should be denied vigilance clearance and should not be considered for promotion and empanelment for senior level positions.

It is interesting that the Central Information Commission, in an earlier decision dated July 23rd 2009, had held that ‘disclosure of information such as assets of a Public servant, which is routinely collected by the Public authority and routinely provided by the Public servants, cannot be construed as an invasion on the privacy of an individual.  There will only be a few exceptions to this rule which might relate to information which is obtained by a Public authority while using extraordinary powers such as in the case of a raid or phone-tapping.  Any other exceptions would have to be specifically justified.  Besides the Supreme Court has clearly ruled that even people who aspire to be public servants by getting elected have to declare their property details. If people who aspire to be public servants must declare their property details it is only logical that the details of assets of those who are public servants must be considered to be disclosable. Hence the exemption under Section 8(1) (j) of RTI cannot be applied in the instant case.’

For the Supreme Court judgement referred to in the above decision, click here.

These are interesting developments, especially given the recent debate on corruption. Let’s wait and see if other states follow Bihar’s lead.

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Govt. gives itself the master key to access sensitive personal information

May 9th, 2011 3 comments

The government has given itself the “master key” to access major consumer databases maintained by companies in different sectors. Under new regulations made under the Information Technology Act, government can ask companies to share sensitive personal information about their customers.

Sensitive personal information would cover medical records and history, information about physical, physiological and mental health, sexual orientation, credit and debit cards, biometric information and passwords.

Under the new rules any government agency required under law to obtain information for the purpose of verifying identity, or for prevention, detection, investigation, prosecution, and punishment of offences can ask a company to give sensitive personal information held by it about an individual.

There are no checks on this power, except that the request for information be made in writing, and stating clearly the reason for seeking the information.  Usually information requests have certain inbuilt checks.  For example, search warrants in criminal cases are issued by a court.  Tapping of telephones or interception of electronic communication can only be authorised by the Union or the State Home Secretary after following a prescribed process.  The new Bill for Unique Identification Number (UID) permits such use only by the order of a court, or for national security (by an order of an authorised officer of at least Joint Secretary rank in the central government).

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