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Making the right choice

March 20, 2014

The formal processes for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections have begun. Candidates will soon file their nominations and start canvassing for votes. Each of them will make their own promises. Some will be driven by their party manifestos and some by pure electoral mathematics. Whatever it may be, this is the time for us to determine who among the many candidates seeking our support deserves to represent us in Parliament. We should not forget that we will get the Parliamentarians we deserve. This means we need to be sure that he/she is someone who can be trusted, is knowledgeable and will do the right thing for his/her constituency.

Wherever I talk on Making Democracy Work, many people have one question to ask me – how do you decide who is best suited to represent us? While it would indeed be very difficult to prove whether a person is honest or is a capable administrator before even electing them, we can assess whether the person we are voting for deserves our vote or not. This can be done by asking a few simple questions to each of these candidates and voting for the one who gives the most satisfactory answers. If after this assessment, we still feel that no one is capable of representing us in Parliament, we have the choice of pressing the NOTA (None Of The Above) button on the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM). Here are few questions that you can ask. This list may seem lengthy and incomplete, but we can pick our questions from the list and/or add others that may seem left out. Make sure that you begin to ask the candidates questions, because we cannot afford to let them get away with mediocrity this time. Too much depends on our vote for us not to demand accountability of our parliamentarians.

  1. What is your age, qualification and what are the languages you are fluent in?
  2. How long have you been in politics?
  3. Do you have any other profession?
  4. Where do you currently reside and where did you reside in the last 5 years?
  5. How many children do you have and what are they doing?
  6. Are you filing your Income Tax returns regularly every year?
  7. What is your primary source of income?
  8. Do you have any criminal cases registered against you?
  9. What is your view on the UID (Aadhaar)? Do you have an Aadhaar card?
  10. How many assembly segments does this constituency have?
  11. What are the three major issues faced by the people of this constituency?
  12. What according to you is the role of a Member of Parliament?
  13. How many times does Parliament meet each year?
  14. If you are a sitting MP or have been an MP before, provide the following information:
    • your average attendance in Parliament
    • the percentage utilization of your MPLAD funds
    • the total number of questions that you asked in Parliament
    • the Parliamentary Committees that you were a part of
  15. Can you name the three most important promises that your party has made in its election manifesto?
  16. What are the challenges facing the Youth of today? How do you think you can address them? How can you create employment opportunities for them?
  17. What are your views on increasing the quality of learning outcomes of children at the primary level?
  18. What is your stand on Universal Health Coverage?
  19. What is your stand on Universal Pensions for the deserving?
  20. What are your views on Food Security for all? Do you think the current legislation will address the issue adequately?
  21. How should the development priorities of the Nation be balanced with environmental concerns?
  22. What is your view on the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments? How will you ensure its implementation in letter and spirit?
  23. What do you think should be the key aspects of an agricultural policy for the Nation?
  24. How will you enhance air, road and rail connectivity of your constituency?
  25. What is your view on violence against women?  How do you think you can ensure the safety and security of all women?
  26. What is your view on the economic direction that India should take?
  27. Will you agree to publish your Governance report card every year to your people?
  28. Will you agree to nominate a committee of senior and respected citizens of your constituency to oversee your performance as an MP if you are elected?
  29. What steps will you take to ensure access to you and your offices for the people of your constituency?

Making the right choice begins by asking the right questions to the candidates. Apart from helping us identify the person most suitable to be our representative, it also helps sensitize them to the needs of their constituency.


Categories: Musings
  1. venkatesh
    March 20, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    Everyone should think & act on these. otherwise “Ignorance is Bliss”. We are doomed.

  2. Anand Narayan
    March 20, 2014 at 3:51 pm

    A good questionnaire for the voter. I will use this data with your permission and circulate it to the residents in my layout, to assess the candidates and take a right decision before they vote. This article is to be published in all English/Kannada newspapers for awareness to all voters in Karnataka/India. Kudos Dr. Balu for this wonderful assessment on how democracy is to work with the present day politicians.

  3. shanthi vasanthagopalan
    March 20, 2014 at 2:04 pm

    Dear Dr RB

    Hope i will be able to use this check list.

    Do you think we could also ask to How do you proposes to address the issue of violence against women? How can you create security and equal opportunities for them?

    Your blog will have big readership i request you to include this in your list so that if we have any body using this list let them also ask for women’s security.


    • March 21, 2014 at 10:48 am

      Shanthi, what you mention is very important. Will surely add that to the list.

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