TODAY -

Ending cash-for-vote trend a pipedream
- The People's Chronicle Editorial :: November 25, 2021 -



BY tongue lashing unnamed candidates who are allegedly planning to buy the votes of the people and urging the electors not to fall prey to such deceptive elements, it could be safely stated that chief minister N Biren has inadvertently admitted prevalence of cash-for-vote trend in the state.

For every sane person, the wish is to see the end of candidates resorting to unfair means to win election but stopping this devilish trend seems unrealistic for electoral politics in Manipur being transformed into the ballet ground for only the wealthy ones indicates power of money over the EVM button.

In his address during a political conference in Khurai AC on Tuesday, CM Biren, besides retelling the success tales of the BJP-led governments at the centre and in the state, cautioned that voting for candidates with wealth would dilute the essence of democracy.

Interestingly, the chief minister acknowledged that there are many candidates who want to contest the elections and win by buying the votes of the people and likened the perception of splurging one's wealth during the democratic exercise to insulting the people.

The chief minister is not the first to despise the growing clout of money for many seasoned and rookie candidates too have been eulogising the same saintly tagline and speaking out against use of money and muscle-power during elections, or expressing concern over the five-yearly democratic exercise making the young voters vulnerable to substance abuse.

Notwithstanding the intending candidates' clarion call given to the electors to exercise their franchise rights in a judicious manner, the public's yearning to see election of only the righteous candidates appears a pipe dream.

With elections evolving into a slugfest for successful contractors, suppliers, business persons, retired bureaucrats and top police officers, the writing is clear on the wall that electoral politics has no room for the ordinary mortals whose lifetime earnings are proceeds from hard toil.

It's an undeniable fact that in Manipur's context, candidates who live in palatial houses, move around in. high-end vehicles, own massive commercial buildings and run reputed business enterprises, to mention a few, are considered a force to reckon with and are unhesitatingly embraced by major political parties.

On its part, the Election Commission of India has been adopting a series of measures to strengthen the integrity of the electoral process and curb some rapidly growing hazards such as the spread of falsehoods aimed at creating social polarisation for consolidation of votes and limit election expenditures, the latter primarily aimed at curbing the cash-for-vote trend and ultimately preventing the election after-effect of corruption in governance.

Even though fighting parliamentary and state elections has become very expensive, the ECI and the political parties refuse to accept and act on the reality.

Consequently, due to low levels of election expenses permitted compared to the actual amount spent, the very first act of an elected legislator is to sign a patently false statement of his election expenses.

In-spite of the ECI's continuous endeavours to eradicate all evils associated with elections, political leaders and parties haven't been showing any enthusiasm to cleanse the cherished democratic process for their prime focus is on the winnability factor of the candidates.

It is also disheartening that while some elected people's representatives in Manipur faced disqualification for eases related to violation of prescribed constitutional provisions or fraudulent submission of personal details, not a single legislator has been found guilty of exceeding the election expenditure limit placed by the ECI in every election.

Therefore, it needs no reminding that electoral politics in the state has reached a level of stiff competition among the society's elites where the ground rules of engagement are rampantly disregarded and the voters are seen as purchasable commodities.



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