DailyPost 2574

The most essential cess, tax or surcharge which the country needs immediately is related to meeting the expenses incurred during elections by politicians and political parties. Indians have been accustomed to paying 2% of cess for a variety of reasons and there has never been a murmur. The taxed population is mostly a complaint one and does not get into agitation mode ever. More often than huge corpus accumulated by cess have not been utilized and remained as non-used revenue for a long time.

It has also been reported that the cess corpus has been utilised for a different purpose, but for which it has been levied. There is huge amount of government money that is spent in the conduct of elections, on men and resources and if the time spend and the corresponding salaries are added up, it would be a sum, which could surprise all of us. That is not to talk of Zero Governance from even before the announcement of elections till way beyond the election results. If so much has already been invested in the elections, why don’t we take one step forward, and state takes up all election expenses on its shoulders.

This one step would be giant leap for democracy in this country and there are chances of the system getting cleansed to a considerable degree. Large number of wrongs happen in the name the likely huge election expenses, during the great Indian fat elections and all throughout the governance period to prepare for it. How much dent ECI has made into it will always remain a matter of conjecture. The government has financial and other resources to take care of creating an electioneering infrastructure and running it; media, physical, material et al for all the political parties and all the candidates.

If for some reason, the country is not able to pay for it, then a cess commensurate to the likely expenses could be levied. A constitutional amendment could serve the purpose, where the main details could be enumerated to be followed by relevant changes in the Representation of People’s Act, followed by changes / additionalities in the charter of duties of the ECI. The aim is to provide a Zero Election Expenditure for the candidates and the political parties. The State (government/s) pays of everything on the format and process as legislated. It would provide a level playing field. If election expenditure is the nemesis of all good democracy can deliver, then that needs to be tackled first. Why it has not been done so far, is way beyond anyone’s imagination.

Sanjay Sahay

Have a nice evening.

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