The biggest challenge in forthcoming elections is how to reduce influence of money power on voting.
Election campaigning can be noisy and at times nasty (even though the code of conduct is in force). Yet the final outcome is graciously accepted by both the winners and losers. There has never been a military coup or violent rejection of election mandate in our history. Indeed such a possibility is unthinkable. Even the darkest hour of our democracy, the 21-month period of emergency in 1975-77, itself ended through peaceful democratic means of elections.
The EC’s job is herculean. The present national elections will have 81 crore voters going to about 1 million polling booths. To ensure peaceful polling, the EC will use the services of 11 million personnel (including police and paramilitary). This process has to ensure zero errors.
The EC’s biggest challenge in the forthcoming Lok Sabha election is how to tackle the menace of money power, as reiterated by the EC chief in his press conference.
Over the years the EC tried to plug many loopholes. All electoral expenses must now come from a designated bank account. If there is any suspicion of cash or liquor distribution, a flying squad is sent for a raid. The EC is now wise and even checks ambulances, because they were found ferrying cash instead of emergency patients. Even mass weddings are suspect as venues of cash distribution. There is the new headache of paid news.
Basically buying of votes, or bribing voters is an electoral malpractice. It is punishable. But instead of reducing this menace, it is increasing like a cancer. We have managed to curb muscle power. So we no longer have booth capturing, nor is their fear of guns or coercion of voters by goondas. But how to eliminate the scourge of money in elections? If voters realise, that if a candidate spends 100, then he expects to reap 1,000 when elected. This is by taking a cut in commissions, by neglecting roads, schools, hospitals and infrastructure. So basically bad governance is consequence of illegal and black money spent on elections.
If voters realise this nexus, and decide to punish high (and illegal) spenders, then and only then we can make a dent on this disease. The EC alone cannot be successful, without the cooperation of us, the voters. So let’s make a promise, “My Vote is Not For Sale. It is precious. I will not vote for anyone who tries to bribe me for my vote”. Mera vote bikaau nahin hai. Mee maaze vote wiknaar nahi. Can we keep this pledge?