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The unholy alliance of Muscle Power and Money Power is weakening Indian democracy

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While I was certainly privileged to have conducted the democratic world’s largest election in 2009, I was also well placed to see the many fault lines that were beginning to fracture our democracy. Many of these negative forces have already weakened the country’s democratic structure so much that I sometimes wonder whether we can ever hope to realise the aspirations of our freedom fighters, who sacrificed so much to gain independence from colonial rule. Sadly, foreign domination has been replaced in some measure by our home grown oligarchy that possesses both “money power” and “muscle power”. This has swept away everything that Gandhiji stood for when he said, “I understand democracy as something that gives the weak the same chance as the strong.”

During the early elections, the statutory limits on individual and party funding were, by and large, adhered to. In the afterglow of the Independence movement many politicians were able to keep their expenses under control. During the 70’s and 80’s elections started to became more expensive as the structure of politics changed into a more fragmented polity. This period also witnessed the arrival of a new set of politicians for whom the freedom movement was just a passing phase of history and who had little or no respect for democratic values. Political funding, too, became more obscure. For instance, donations made to political parties enabled contributions of amounts below Rs. 20,000 to remain undeclared.

During my five-and-a-half years in the Election Commission of India (ECI), I witnessed the growth of “money power” as a hydra-headed monster. No sooner that we cut off one head than others would appear to replace it. The 2009 Thirumangalam by-election in Tamil Nadu gained both national and international notoriety for the “novel” methods developed by parties to bribe voters. This “Thirumangalam” formula has sadly been replicated everywhere and ingeniousmethods have been developed to beat the statutory limits of expenditure which is Rs 70 lakh for the General Election and up to 28 lakh for an Assembly seat. In a rare unguarded moment a former Maharashtra Minister let slip that he had spent Rs.8 crore on his 2009 election, when the prescribed limit at that time was Rs.40 lakh. The ECI issued a notice to him. He quickly recanted and said he was “misquoted”. As is common knowledge, politicians across the board spend far above the statutory ceilings making sure that they are not caught in the process.

[FONT=&quot]I have made an analysis of the results in the recently-concluded elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh. In Himachal Pradesh, according to their self-declared affidavits, 61 out of a total of 338 contesting candidates have criminal cases registered against them. This represents 18% of the total. More interestingly, the number of candidates with criminal records who won are 22 out of 61, a whopping 36%! Not surprisingly, 67% of the winning candidates with criminal records are crorepatis.[/FONT]



Well-known member
It is strange a former CEC laments over the deterioration of electoral process by Money power and Muscle power. Election Commission is a Constitutional Authority. It has been given all the legal power to conduct the elections. Mr. T.N.Seshan had brought discipline in conducting elections for the first time in our Country, using the powers available to CEC.
It is unfortunate we have to witness similar situation in the working of Parliament also. Other day Senior member Mr.L.K.Advani stood alone in the Parliament and expressed his unhappiness in the empty hall !
The recent acquittal of 2G accused and the R K Nagar byelection results make the
honest citizens wonder at this rate where do we go ? Time alone will tell.....

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Well-known member

the adharmam is part of every day.....dharma comes late....like 2G case....like seven years of waste of energy/time...
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