Increasing Money Power in Indian Elections

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    • Eight recognised national parties have declared a total income of Rs 3289.34 crore collected from all over India in the financial year 2021-22, with the BJP accounting for more than half of it, according to Association for Democratic Reforms( a prominent NGO working for electoral reforms).

    Scenario 

    • Politics has become money-minded, and service to the public has taken a back seat. 
    • Money plays a major role in determining the shape and result of elections.

    Causes 

    • In western democracies where the voters are well educated and have ample means of livelihood, the role of money is insignificant. 
      • But, in countries like India, where the majority of people live below the poverty line and are illiterate, money plays a vital role.
    • Political Parties nominate those candidates who have or can raise money for the party. 
    • In some cases, political parties support criminals who can win elections.
      • The bulk of money that comes into the party coffers is ill-gotten and black money

    Impacts and Concerns 

    • Election expenses are mounting by the day and the common man finds it impossible to contest the election. 
    • The evil influence of money power has brought public ridicule and has eroded public faith in the system. 
    • Rich people and companies who give funds to political parties influence the policies and decisions of the party. 
    • Purchasing votes through money power is not good for democracy. 

    Various Steps to tackle  

    • The Election Commission (EC) is “seriously concerned” about the increasing use of money power in elections and has successively enforced the ‘Election Expenditure Monitoring’ mechanism since the Bihar Assembly polls in 2010.
    • In order to keep the election expenditure within the statutory limit prescribed under Rule 90 of the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961, and also to curb excess expenditure/unaccounted expenditure, the Election Commission has introduced a robust mechanism for election expenditure monitoring during elections.
    • Various measures taken to keep tabs on poll spending include the deployment of expenditure observers, assistant expenditure observers, video surveillance teams, video viewing teams, accounting teams, complaint monitoring and call centers, media certification, and monitoring committee, flying squads, and static surveillance teams

    Suggestions 

    •  Money power should not influence voters and ECI is working with district magistrates, local level hill council members, religious bodies, tribal leaders, and civil society groups to ensure clean elections
    • People also should understand that those who purchase votes will not serve them.
    • The need of the hour is a stringent implementation of restrictive provisions prescribed in law including disqualification of the contestants to curb the menace of money power in electoral politics.
      • There is also a need for a comprehensive plan to curb excessive poll spending by political parties and candidates and action against erring candidates and parties.

    Do you Know?

    • Distributing cash and gifts during the electoral process is not permitted under the law, e.g., distribution of money, liquor, or any other item disbursed and given to the electors with the intent to influence them. 
    • This expenditure comes under the definition of “bribery” which is an offence both under 171B of IPC and under the Representation of the People Act, 1951. 
    • The expenditure on such items is illegal. 

    Source: ET