Basic theme: The political party in power, while contesting the election, should publish an affidavit of the status of the promises mentioned in the manifesto for the previous election along with the current election manifesto.
Political parties make many unrealistic promises during elections that can’t be fulfilled. Common voters do not understand that the promises are un-implementable and manifestos remain pieces of paper due to short-term memory of citizens.
The promises made in election manifestos are not legally enforceable. Election commission can’t act against parties making unrealistic poll promises and not fulfilling them because the manifesto promises cannot be constructed as “corrupt practices” under the Representation of the People Act though they do “influence” the people and “shake the roots of free and fair elections”.
Though election commission has issued guidelines for political parties to state the rationale for the promises in the manifestos and the way and means to meet the financial requirement for them, the political parties, after winning the election, don’t show commitment to fulfil the promises.
While conducting elections, citizens need to be made aware of the status of the election manifesto promises made by the political party in power.
It can be achieved if Election Commission of India issues following guidelines for the political party (or parties in case of an alliance) in power:
(a) While contesting the election, the political party in power should submit an affidavit, to the election commission, of the status of the promises mentioned in the manifesto for the previous election.
(b) The political party in power should publish the affidavit along with the current election manifesto.
Though the promises made in election manifestos are not legally enforceable, people will be made aware of their status. These guidelines will be helpful to make political parties more responsible while making election manifesto promises as they will have to put their status in public domain while contesting for the following election.