The candidates and political parties having tons of black money (wonder where it is generated from) are distributing it freely in the form of cash, liquor or rations. Our gullible public is just making the most of it from all the candidates in their constituencies
By Col Shireesh Bhatia (Retd)
Having been closely involved for the first time in any kind of elections, I have been amazed and scared seeing the blatant use of money to buy votes during the Great Indian Election Festival. Despite all checks by expenditure monitoring teams put in place by the ECI, the candidates and political parties having tons of black money (wonder where it is generated from) are distributing it freely in the form of cash, liquor or rations. Our gullible public is just making the most of it from all the candidates in their constituencies.
Recently, I met a friend of mine in Manipur who was cribbing about how the daily wagers working for the construction of his hospital have taken off for their respective villages or, in this case, their constituencies, leaving their work which is feeding their families. He explained to me that they are getting more money out of the intending candidates/ candidates in the electoral fray by going around their offices/ homes, so why would they want to work at this time.
The ECI’s expenditure monitoring guidelines are good only if there’s no black money in play. Also, no candidate has been spending money beyond the limit laid down, simply because the period covered for the expenditure is from the date of nomination to the date of declaration of results, which is generally around a month only. More so, the actual expenditure is monitored from the nomination till the date of polling, which is just about 20 odd days, as in the current case of Manipur. However, the money being distributed by the candidates is not done in public places, so there’s no monitoring the same.
Our public, despite being aware that the elected candidate shall first collect back all his or her expenditure before even thinking of using the Local Area Development Fund for the public. For a short term gain we are selling our votes. I came across a few people who said very unequivocally that they will vote for the candidate who gives them the highest amount. A candidate, no names, has gone around distributing cash to the tune of Rs 10000/- door to door (in the urban area) in the run up to the elections, starting nearly 6-8 months earlier. The capability of the candidate holds no meaning in our kind of democracy. Qualifications, background of political or social work or experience of public administration does not matter to our public. Hence, we get the kind of people that we see today as elected leaders, viz, contractors, uneducated and uncouth people. That actually sums up the elections in Manipur or for that matter, all over India, the elections have now become The Great Indian Election Festival or Festival of Money.