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PM wants ‘growing’ middle class to take interest in politics


New Delhi : Expressing concern that Indian politics was not attracting the best and the brightest, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Monday said educated professionals and the country’s growing middle class should participate in the electoral process.

Addressing the inaugural session of the diamond jubilee celebrations of the Election Commission of India, Manmohan Singh said the county needed to ponder on some of the challenges in democracy that lie ahead.

“There is a genuine concern that politics in our country is not attracting the best and the brightest among our people,” the prime minister said.

Lamenting that “educated professionals and the growing middle class” were shying away from participating in the electoral process, he said: “Many of them are not even willing to take the trouble to cast their vote.”

Poor turnout in many constituencies, the prime minister said, undermines the “legitimacy of the victor in a `first past the post’ system that we follow”.

He said that there was general worry that people without sufficient means cannot contest elections.

“The background of many contestants, and quite often the winning ones, does not inspire confidence in the voters. There is no easy answer to these questions.”

He said the Election Commission had considered some of these problems and given its recommendations.

“I hope in the coming years we will be able to find solutions to these problems by consensus, and in the process improve the quality of our democracy,” Manmohan Singh said.

Praising the poll panel as “one of the pillars of Indian democracy” the prime minister said: “In the past 60 years, it has acquitted itself exceptionally well in the onerous task of conducting elections to our parliament and to the state legislatures.”