Analysis: Time For The Electorate To Shrug Off Its Slumber

Analysis: Time For The Electorate To Shrug Off Its Slumber

The electorate, which has shown its power even on unproved corruptions charges, is expected to use that power again and throw the corrupt out

Abhay MokashiUpdated: Friday, March 29, 2024, 08:07 PM IST
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Representative Image | Pixabay

The campaign to expose those benefiting from the electoral bonds, declared illegal by the Supreme Court, has not gathered momentum as yet. The television channels are silent on the electoral bonds, except for an occasional mention. Civil society organisations too have yet to make it a major election issue

The Bharatiya Janata Party was the biggest beneficiary of the electoral bonds, followed by the Indian National Congress and the Trinamool Congress. The electoral bonds cannot be said to be bad per se, since all political parties need money to fight elections, which have now become an expensive affair, though that should not be case in the current scenario with the presence of social media.

A case in point here is the defeat of the Congress government led by Indira Gandhi, in 1977. There were restrictions on the newspapers, the public broadcasting was in the control of the party in power, which is generally the case and there was no social media, we find today. Yet, in what was known as the whisper campaign, the Opposition parties were able to reach out to the people; that did not require huge funds.

Going by that example, it is possible for political parties to practice austerity and cut down on election expenditure. Unfortunately, parties don’t do that and a large section of the public supports candidates and political parties displaying more power of their wealth. The people at large do not question the political parties about their sources of funds.

It is common knowledge that those in power earn the ability to armtwist or threaten many into giving funds to individuals as well as political parties. It happens from the level of those elected to civic bodies, many of whom start rolling in money within a short time of getting elected, even if they are not members of the ruling party or alliances. In casual discussions the voters do mention the corruption by elected representatives and their political parties, but that has become an accepted norm.

Societies often function like liquids. Just as liquids take the shape of the container, which is an external influence, so do societies. Liquids have saturation points for different soluble substances, so is the case with societies, they can tolerate issues to a certain extent after which the issues are rejected.

Several sections of our society are currently going through a phase of religious fanaticism and a spirit of competition with other religions. Unfortunately, this competition is not to show that the teachings of one religion are better than that of another, but to create more nuisance value than that of the other religion. Hopefully, this will stop soon, when religion reaches its saturation point. People are free to follow their religion, but that cannot be at the cost of national development. Instead of creating production- and service-based jobs, some state governments are concentrating on making religion an industry and a means of earning for a few. Those doing so have modified the saying, ‘service to humankind, is service to god’, for them it is ‘service to god, is service to humankind (or rather certain leaders)’. The day the people learn that it is not in the national interest, things will change.

Corruption is another issue that the people have been tolerating for long of late. But India’s electoral history shows that governments have even been voted out of power due to charges of corruption — examples being the Congress governments led by Rajiv Gandhi and Manmohan Singh. The Bharatiya Janata Party had levelled a charge of kickbacks of Rs 64 crore against Rajiv Gandhi in the Bofors Howitzer deal, and several charges of corruption including the 2G scam or coal scam against Dr Manmohan Singh’s government. None of these charges have been proven.

The Chimanbhai Patel government was voted out by the electorate in 1974 due to charges of corruption, so was the case of the Sharad Pawar government in Maharashtra, after charges of land scam. Ashok Chavan, who was then with the Congress, had to resign as chief minister following charges of corruption with regards the Adarsh housing society. That was one of the reasons for the Congress winning fewer seats in the subsequent Assembly elections.

A R Antulay had to resign after it was exposed that he had made builders, wanting cement for their construction work, donate funds to the Pratibha Pratishthan, a non-governmental organisation set up by him. The builders paid the money to the trust through legal means and not a single rupee from that went to the Congress.

The electoral bonds issue and the information that has come to light shows that the BJP is one-up on Antulay. Evidence shows that the BJP used two methods, one was funds against favours and the other the use of investigating agencies to make organisations buy electoral bonds and present them to the BJP.

The electorate, which has shown its power even on unproved corruptions charges, is expected to use that power again and throw the corrupt out. The Supreme Court verdict has clearly stated that the electoral bonds go against the Constitution and hence are illegal. In the light of that, all the amounts collected by the beneficiaries should have been attached as is done when thieves and dacoits are caught, since the money obtained through an illegal act is illegal.

The Delhi liquor scam is another classic case of misuse of power. The persons, who are not recipients of the electoral bonds, purchased by the beneficiary of the liquor policy, are in jail, while the party which received the bonds is projected to be clean.

The investigating agencies may be misused, the courts may remain silent on certain issues, but the electorate must wakeup from its slumber or get out of religious intoxication, to use their voting power to fight corruption, as it did in the past.

Ian Fleming’s character always announced, “I am Bond, James Bond.” So also, the electorate has to be reminded of bonds, electoral bonds.

The author is a senior journalist and media trainer. He tweets at @a_mokashi

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