Shri Baijayant Jay Panda
Member, Lok Sabha, Lower House, Indian Parliament
Topics: Dispute Resolution
Keywords: monitoring, media relations, dispute resolution, election management body, codes of conduct
Interviewer(s): Rushda Majeed
Country of Reform: India
Date: Fri Nov 19 2010
Jay Panda offers the perspective of a political party member on the work of the Elections Commission of India and its model code of conduct. He underscores the role of the Elections Commission in shaping perceptions of Indian democracy over the last two decades. Furthermore, Panda credits the model code of conduct for enhancing the credibility of the Elections Commission and its capacity for enforcement, contributing to its considerable institutional legitimacy. While he acknowledges that the code plays an important role in the conduct of fair elections and norm-building, he believes it imposes excessive logistical constraints. These constraints obey a specific logic. For instance, potential distortions arising from use of the code by incumbents to reduce contestation are prevented by subordinating the administrative apparatus to the Elections Commission in advance of elections. However, the regulations can be burdensome for the conduct of normal state affairs, including in the wake of natural disasters. In general, the party mobilizes through legal channels to appeal decisions that affect its candidates. Panda underscores the role of vigilance by opposing parties and rapid media coverage in securing compliance. As a result, implementation of the code at the party-level may require specialized staffers tasked with monitoring adherence to the code. This step is in agreement with the good governance platform of Panda's party, but may represent a more general trend due to the perceived considerable enforcement power of the Elections Commission.
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Jay Panda Interview
Trained in engineering and management at Michigan Technological University, Shri Baijayant "Jay" Panda returned to India to run his family's company. That experience in the private sector motivated him to affect change by entering the political life. He is one of the founding members of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) party. He served in the Upper House of the Indian Parliament, the Rajya Sabha, for nine years. He is currently the representative for the constituency of Kendrapara (Orissa) in the lower house, the Lok Sabha.