...to check money power in elections, say politicos
Prasanna Mohanty | February 2, 2012
In spite of doing his best to prevent use of money (close to Rs 70 crore in cash seized in Tamil Nadu during the last elections) and other inducements (more than 8 lakh bottles of liquor and more than 50 kg of heroin valued at Rs 250 crore in international markets seized in Punjab during the recently held elections), chief election commissioner SY Quraishi has accepted defeat.
Last Sunday (Jan 29), he told a news channel that these efforts had failed to clean up the system and hence, it was time to consider “right to reject” as an effective remedy. But do the politicians have anything to offer?
If one were to go by the considered opinion of Manish Tewari and Rajiv Pratap Rudy, spokespersons of the Congress and BJP, respectively, they have and that is: Delink legislative work from the executive work.
Participating in a discussion on “Campaign finance reforms in India: issues and challenges", organized by the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi on Wednesday, both strongly pitched for this single idea. Their biggest sales pitch in favour was that having practiced politics at every level for the past 30 years, they know the best solution.
“Why do politicians spend so much money in elections?” asked Tewari and went on to answer: “There is a quid pro quo”. And how that link could be broken? By “divorcing” executive functions from legislative functions, he said.
Rudy said, “The day it was decided that the legislators can’t become ministers, 99 percent of people would leave politics”.
Both agreed that it may not be the perfect solution with a 100 percent success rate but that would be the “only” solution.
This delinking is not easy to achieve though. It would require a fundamental change, starting with changing the basic structure of our constitution – from a parliamentary system of governance to a presidential system of governance.
For ages, the election commission, think tanks and political commentators have made several suggestions about reforming our electoral politics. The key ones are: (a) bringing “democracy” to political parties, which function as personal fiefdom of some individuals; (b) bringing “financial transparency” to all their activities and (c) keeping the corrupt and the criminals out.
Tewari and Rudy may look up to the American presidential system for inspirations but it works in America because they have, among other things, a transparent system of financial accounting. Here, all our political parties unanimously resist it. Our political parties have also opposed every sensible reform proposal, except for endorsing the one that promises more money to them – state-funding of elections.
But Rudy (and Trewari both of whom were speaking in their personal capacities) had the last say. He said he believed that the only possible solution was segregation of legislative and executive powers. There is no point in talking about any other reform because he knew politicians wouldn’t accept. “Why would they? They are perfectly happy and comfortable with the present system”, he commented.
The Art of Conjuring Alternate Realities: How Information Warfare Shapes Your World By Shivam Shankar Singh and Anand Venkatanarayanan HarperCollins / 284 pages / Rs 599 Professor Noam Chomsky, linguist and public intellectual, has often spoken of &ls
The brutal second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in India has left a significant death toll in its wake. Health experts advise that the imminent third wave can be delayed by following simple measures like wearing a mask and engaging in social distancing. However, near the end of the second wave, we witnesse
Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari has emphasised deciding driving hours for truck drivers of commercial vehicles, similar to pilots, to reduce fatigue-induced road accidents. In a Na
In a step towards Telecom Reforms which aim to provide internet and tele connectivity for the marginalised section, the Department of Telecommunications, Ministry of Communica
Raising concerns over rising seawater levels and climate change, Mumbai First, a 25-year-old public-private partnership policy think tank, has written letters to Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, minister for environment and climate change, tourism and protocol, Aditya Thackeray and Mumbai munic
After the recent announcement of the government guarantee for Security Receipts (SRs) to be issued by a public sector-owned National Asset Reconstruction Company Ltd (NARCL), there is a surge of interest around this desi version of a super bad bank. The entity will acquire around ₹2 trillion bad debts fr