Election jamboree & voters bonanza

Free Thinker *

 Voting for Outer Manipur Parliamentary Constituency for 17th Lok Sabha election at Kangpokpi :: 11 April 2019
Voting for Outer Manipur Parliamentary Constituency for 17th Lok Sabha election at Kangpokpi on 11 April 2019 :: Pix - Shankar Khangembam

It is common knowledge that the laity get some kind of pecuniary assistance (direct transfer) from the candidates or the political parties just on the eve of every quinquennial election. Though this practice of distributing freebies, gifts and drinks is not in conformity with Law or Model Code of Conduct it has been prevailing in the hustings throughout the nook and corner of this country. Election time is perhaps the only moment that the poor citizens are respected, treated politely, pampered properly and so on. That might be the reason why many electorates want frequent elections.

I am saddened to hear the unconfirmed news that the rate of our voters in the hills (outer constituency) has come down to 300, 200 and 100. This is blatant debasement of our franchise and our pride & prestige too. I was expecting at least 500 per fingering on the inscrutable EVM. Certainly, I am not in favor of buying and selling of votes; but why should we devalue of our votes as long as the usual practice is on?

Let the voters get the right rate from all the contenders and then let them decide what to do? That is the true spirit.

This time one silver lining in the hills is that polling became more democratic; earlier the entire votes of a village was exercised by one man; but this time there was a huge improvement Ė one representative could carry only 20 or 15 votes. A semblance of democracy has set in. This is widely appreciated. But the lingering question is whether the bullets are still stronger than the EVMs.

ĎOuter is out, Inner is iní, I donít know why the major parties think alike. Till the final result is declared it is difficult to say who will win? In 2014, a part-time astrologer predicted that BJP will form the government; that time no one took him seriously. He is now governor of something.

Today as a part-time thinker I am saying that they will continue in power despite odds. If it turns out to be correct who knows I may be made ambassador of some unknown countries.

As of today, seizures of illegal cash during the current election campaigns have registered more than Rs 2400 crore. This exponential rise is due to heavy seizures in Madhya Pradesh, Arunachal, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka etc. I donít think such seizures will help the poor people.

If the voters are deprived from getting what they are about to get, we are doing dis-service to them. The seized liquor or drugs shall be destroyed; that is okay. The money (black-money) should reach the hands of our poor people.

We can make them happy at least for a day. You know the happiness index of this country is so low whereas a small country Finland is at the top. To my surprise even Pakistan and Bangladesh are happier than us.

Lousy thinkers like me feel that if elections are held every month or on regular intervals (Parliamentary, Assembly, Local Bodies, Panchayats, Municipalities, etc.) there will be no need for Nyay or farmers salary or MNREGA etc.

Experts and economists in NITI may grudgingly agree with me. But we all know that it is not practical to have elections every now and then because we have exams, marriage season, harvesting season, series of festivals and so on.

In this country political parties finance their elections mostly through the funds from wealthy people and corporate houses. No party can afford the humongous election expenditure through membership fee or public funding. Industrialists and moneyed people are not reluctant to fund the parties or candidates which are likely to be in power.

Although donors/contributors can claim IT exemption, a huge part of it remains unaccounted. Consequently, every election we generate black money. It is common knowledge that political parties and candidates get huge amount of money, but they normally donít disclose all what they received.

The present practice of electoral bonds is heavily bias towards the powerful parties. The idea of these 2000 Rs electoral bonds are to keep the identity of the donor confidential. The bond does not carry the name of the buyer.

So, a rich man or a company can hire a large number of people to buy these bonds from the banks, maybe for many crores, then they can donate them to the party of their choice. That party will encash these bonds through their accounts across the country. What a windfall!

Another great (grey) area is that a candidate for the parliamentary election may spend up to 70 lakhs; however, there is no limit for the Party to spend on their candidates. In other words, the party can spend an unlimited amount of money on any candidate; this is still a rich menís world Ė an affluent candidate can pay the party to fund him or her.

Today, look at the major democracies of the world, (including ours) multi-millionaires and billionaires are the rulers or law-makers and certainly this is an indication that the democracies are fast becoming plutocracies. Still I have no problem with the plutocrats as long as the poor are fed and taken care of.

Ultimately why should we deprive our poor voters their only opportunity to get a paltry share of unaccounted money. Elections are the harvesting seasons for the poor, so my humble request to the concerned authorities is that Ďplease donít strip their right to get pampered albeit momentaryí. Let them get the largesse from all and sundry; they are not fools, they know where to press.

Bullets in the Hills & Money in the Valley canít be the deciding factor all the time.

* Free Thinker wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on April 17, 2019.

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