WHAT IS ELECTION EXPENDITURE?
Of the people who still remember the conduct of elections in the pre-Seshan days, would not dare to imagine what the elections could have been like today, had that watershed in election history not happened. It was a free for all. From the general studies books, the Chief Election Commissioner and the Election Commission became the most happening organization in this country and all for right reasons. Whether the seeds sown then and ably demonstrated election after election during those days, grew up into an election banyan tree to provide the ultimate shade, fully conducive to the growth of Indian democracy, still remains a question mark.
Elections have been to a battle of muscle power and money power to gain the democratic validity through elections. If election expenditure went on uncontrolled, no financial propriety in governance could ever happen, as that seed could only bloom into nothing white. Slew of measures were put in place, how effective had they been during the days of Seshan and what is its status today, we leave it to the electorate to decide. Two facts need to be considered; one that money by far is the biggest killer in Indian democracy and second, no party or candidate is interested in setting it right. It has become an oil oiled machine, proven over time.
The creation of expenditure observers and put a limit to election expenditure, have been steps in the right direction, but has that been enough. Model code of conduct enabled conduct and expenditure, just prior to the elections can be called as the tip of the iceberg. The aim is to provide expenditure statement for the specified items of a month or so, submitted to the election commission and to be with it. There have hardly been any legal tangles in this regard, and presumably an equilibrium seems to have been reached upon, in practice. What is the election expenditure, has to be clearly defined, and limited duration of its operation needs to be looked into, too. Are crores spent on endless ads coming in all the newspapers and electronic media all the year round, election expenditure? State government ads are beamed across the country. What is the objective?
Can it be anything but for wooing the electorate? What is the difference between a FMCG product and this sort of political / governmental ad campaign? Worst still, it all happens on tax payers’ money. Is it not the job of the election commission to bring this sort surreptitious expenditure to book? The days just before the election commission notification, is full of election extravaganza of a different type, but it all costs money. The nature of money being splurged in elections and anything even remotely connected to it, which is known to one and all but does not find a mention in the accounts statement submitted to the election commission. Has money not been primordial to our democratic existence, the nature of our democracy would have been different. How many of the government expenditure is camouflaged for this purpose? Can Election Commission not devise ways to bring sanity into election expenditure, at any time connected to the elections.
DEMOCRACY IS FUELLED BY ELECTIONS BUT ELECTIONS CANNOT BE LEFT TO BE FUELLED BY MONEY AND THAT TOO OF A PREFERABLE COLOR.
Have a nice evening.