Monday, December 6, 2010

Financing election campaigns

It is often said that politicians in India are forced to adopt corrupt practices to be able to raise finances to meet the ever increasing costs of fighting elections. As someone who has always held that there could never be a justification for corruption, I refuse to accept this defence of politicians. Had politicians been making money by misusing and abusing their public offices only to finance their election campaigns, how can their ‘rags to super riches’ stories be ever explained? One just has to look at their statements of assets and liabilities submitted before the elections, usually their net worth goes up many times in five years, and if their undisclosed assets could be included the growth would be much more. No doubt a certain part of the funds the politicians raise illegally, not infrequently their fee for permitting and protecting outright criminal activities, goes to meet their election expenses but the rest, and that is the major part, remains with them in India or is stashed away in their bank accounts in Switzerland, Singapore or other safe havens for stolen money. With the present state of governance in the country we may not be able to catch these rogues and try them for treason for their crimes against the state and the people of India but let us not at least try to justify their worst villainy and avarice.

It is my considered opinion that today if a political party comes clean and declares that it will not make any criminal or anyone charge-sheeted by a court its candidate in any election, be it for the village Panchayats, municipal councils, State Legislature or Parliament, and then asks for donation from members of the public by way of cheques or bank transfers, it would manage to raise enough resources for funding election campaigns. Thanks to the interminable line of scams which are coming to light with monotonous regularity, so much hatred against corruption has been generated in the middle class that people would not mind loosening their purse strings a little for helping clean up the political system.

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