Friday, July 25, 2008

Why no secret ballot?

After the showdown at Parliament a couple of days back ,the brickbats have been flying against those who cross-voted, while the man in the 'hot-seat', the speak Mr. Chatterjee, is busy deciding if he should quit or not. Money was shown in Parliament, and thanks to a strange verdict by the Supreme Court in the early 90s, MPs indulging in unlawful activities would be immune.

In our democracy, we practice the concept of 'secret ballot', where each person casts his/her vote in secret and hence is shielded from scrutiny by others. Why can't the same practice be followed in Parliament during a trust vote? I mean, unless there is a law that forbids this, wouldn't this be better, and spare those who may have cross-voted (due to their conscience or inducements) from the wrath of angry party cadre who usually go on a rampage, targeting the MPs in question.

I am obviously sympathetic towards Mr H T Sangliana, the BJP MP from Bangalore who has been facing the brunt of the party's ire in Bangalore as he chose to vote with the UPA because he felt the nuclear deal was in the best interest of the country. While the attitude of the BJP's spokesperson Rajeev Pratap Rudy was disgusting (he said the MPs who cross voted should now seek protection from the UPA, meaning his party had issued orders to vandalise the properties of people like Mr Sangliana), an important question arises: in a democratic, free society, should there be a line drawn for a person to stay within when his/her conscience clashes with the party line? Should party interest trump national interest? Can't a person be a part of a political party for only a few principles that they may share in common and decide on the others based on their conscience? After all, all political parties claim they do not endorse murderers and criminals (in politics or otherwise), yet their presence is never found wanting.

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