DailyPost 2058

While Seshan tried his best to bring sanity into election expenditure mayhem in this country, demonetization also was in a way a decisive step to bring in accountability into election spending, besides lots of other reasons. That the democracy of the country is completely politicized is known to one and all, but that democracy has also been monetized nearly completely, outside known mechanisms remains relatively unknown. People in the trade know this openly unknown secret. If various revelations time and again, lots fully substantiated, if transformed into a collage, will willy-nilly explain the monetised democracy of India. Few political milestones, investigative and anecdotal evidence will complete the story fairly well.

How neatly this well-oiled machine is made to run without any public outcry is the eight wonder of the world. While the masses toil, this informal yet well-structured monetisation machine gets further solidified with every passing day. Their setbacks which we read in newspapers are seen by the practitioners as even better and brighter opportunities for the future. One disclaimer, rampant well known and visible symptoms of the disease cannot be called conjecture, for lack of ready, judicially tested evidence. The other blatant fact is the political circles, might be elsewhere too, is the rampant tendency to hoodwink the law, rather than dutifully following it. Having political power at their beck and call, or being a part of the class, which is interested in this cosy ecosystem, it becomes easier for them to play around with the law.

Nobody will play with the law, if there is no vested interest and more often than not, it translates into monetary gain. Party funding has remained a quintessential political problem. Elections have been treated as cash guzzlers, and it is generally presumed that the wealth of the party / candidates translates at least to some degree, into political success. Things have been changing on this front, and now we have electoral bonds too. Different rules and laws that regulate political and election funding, themselves are full of gaping holes, and no will is there to implement even those, is scary. The cost of elections is generally talked about as the capital cost of creating a business enterprise. On the intra-party side, there are always claims and counterclaims of money changing hands in the allotment of party tickets. Some leaders also give donations to their party.

Election funding in a wide and varied manner, and similar accounting following suit, has made it a jigsaw puzzle beyond redemption. Government formation is another area of monetization, coalitions might be better off from this point of view. Nina Radia tapes give a clear inkling into this game. Making governments and cobbling new ones can be peak business time in this game. Show of strength can be another financial thriller. Even questions in the legislature are asked for a price. Policies and laws can change, created or tweaked, if the scale tilts in someone’s favour. Whatever little is reflected by the asset declarations at the time of elections, gives a picture of what keeps happening at the backend. Procurements are riddled to an extent that the governments are known by percentages. The total number of businessmen in our legislatures, and ones who openly support businesses and those involved in some scam or the other, added together, have the critical mass to sabotage all good that can possibly be done.

Sanjay Sahay

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