MONEY AND MUSCLE POWER IN INDIAN
POLITICS – A CONTEMPARARY ISSUE
FAIRNESS AT PLAY
AS A PART OF ‘MANTHAN’
INSTITUTE OF LAW NIRMA UNIVERSITY
1. INTRODUCTION- THE PROBLEM……….
2. Present scenario
3. watch on Karnataka elections
4. how to curb the issue
Politics, sadly, in our nation isn’t considered the right option for a prudent
man to pursue his career. Never do we here an exited dad exclaim “my child
shall be a politician.”
Who is to be blamed for the current sorry status of Indian politics? Is it the
politicians? There methods? The electorates? Or the whole system?
Let us try and find out.
Shockingly, according to a recent survey done by Association of democratic
rights, Muscle and money power is enough to win you elections in this
country. And mind you they weren’t just bluffing. A survey of 10 years
scenario made them arrive to this sorry condition.
The following TIMES OF INDIA article might be a little eye opener
NEW DELHI: Money and muscle will help you get elected in India, and
now, the Association of Democratic Rights (ADR) has the figures to prove
it. The organization has come up with data spread over 10 years which
shows that not only do candidates and even members of Parliament and state
legislatures who have criminal records have more financial assets than those
without, but that in 16 out the 19 major political parties covered by the
survey, a criminal offence against your name will significantly increase your
chances of winning.1
Our presentation here shall largely be on the study of ADR.
“The voter in India is subjected to two ‘M’s. Muscle and money” –
Christopher Jafferlot (2002)
“Brother, don’t eat everything for you. BSP has made you MP, MLA. Now
bring one lakh rupees to the party.” – Kumari Mayavati, Ex- CM of UP in
The above rather shocking words would make us rethink… have we
succeeded as a democratic republic?
The problem in our country is that evidence that muscle-money and elections
go together hand in hand is secondary and acute evidence is rather scarce.
There is currently rampant corruption and criminalization in politics
including recent work that makes candidates affidavit data usable.
Criminalization in politics has contributed towards a feeble electoral system. The
representatives who stand for elections are stuffed with various criminal charges against
It is quite well known and perfectly understood in our nation that known
perspective from a common man’s eyes that these politicians take the comfor
t of criminal elements to ascend the ladder. This is really a matter of agonizing the
right, then are these politicians cum criminals who are leading us creating a just
atmosphere? The answer will always be a big “no”. The Law Commission of India
Reports contains the bio data of the politicians, describing their social
background, charges against them, if any, etc. It is our fundamental right to know the
antecedents of every person to whom we give vote. But very few make use of such
benefit. This is because of the lack of awareness among people. Section 8 of People
The recent Lily Thomas V. Union of India judgment has removed the above mentioned
sectionfromthe representationofpeoplesactandhassaidthatamember shall bedeemed
to be disqualified and barred from attending proceedings from the day of conviction. It
The Supreme Court in the Judgment further barred any leader in jail or detained from
The Supreme Court judgment seemed to be like a new ray of hope for the nation.
Shockingly all the political parties stood against the Judgment and passed a resolution
Such events demoralize the public from politics and prove the fact that only money and
The way our Legislature, the Lok Sabha, the Rajya Sabha and the State Legislative
who find their way to Legislatures. For example, it was reported by the media that more
than half of the MLAs to the present state assembly election in Uttar Pradesh had
It is quite common to put almost the entire blame for the current state of affairs on the so-
called political class in the country. But those who blame them entirely overlook the fact
that this political class emerges from the society only. They are not developed in
vacuum or in isolation. It’s the citizens who do not make use of the benefit
furnished to them. Therefore, one way to change the behavior of the political class would
be to change the system in which they have to operate. This is where electoral reforms
become important. The Government believes that our political system is broken. We
urgently need fundamental political reform, including a referendum on electoral reform,
much greater co-operation a cross party lines, and changes to our political system to make
The terms muscle power and money power have unfortunately become
synonymous with Indian elections.
* The targets for the power hungry Indian politicians are the simple minded
and poor citizens living below poverty line, who are vulnerable to the
temptations of easy money and vague promises due to their desperate
economic and social conditions.
Such poor citizens are cajoled with bribing for votes and are also threatened
with muscle power which is nothing but a by product of money power.
Considering the prevalence of the twin evils of money power and muscle
power, the results of the Indian elections cannot be considered as genuine
mandate of the people.
* The evil practices start even at elections to the students unions in colleges
and universities and gain full scale at the panchayat, municipal , state and
* Today, the money and muscle power play such a dominant role in
elections, that there is little chance for a common man with honest intentions
and little resources to contest elections , even if he has the capability. The
political parties are responsible for this situation, since they only consider
the “winnability” (money power & muscle power) of the person for
nominating him as the party candidate. Therefore, the political parties in
India should be held totally responsible for denying the citizens good
candidate to choose and thus killing the spirit of electoral democracy.
* The ground conditions have to be improved, so that men who value certain
code of ethics are enabled to come to the centre stage of politics and contest
in the elections.
* The use of money power and muscle power in elections are the direct
consequence of corruption in government machinery , which have made
money power and muscle power in elections possible. Therefore, without
eradicating corruption, it would not be possible to defeat money power and
muscle power in elections.
* Obviously, those in pivotal positions like Prime Minister and Chief
Ministers should have the will and quality of mind set to combat corruption.
If they are party to the corruption either as active participant or as silent
spectator, the country has no hope of cleansing the electoral process.
* The Election Commission can play a positive role but it has it’s own
limitations, since it depends upon the government machinery to conduct
elections, which are under the control of many dishonest politicians.
STATISTICS OF THE RECENTLY HELD KARNATAKA
The Karnataka Election Watch’s (KEW) analysis of the affidavits of 156
Bangalore candidates from six major parties — Bharatiya Janata Party,
Congress, Janata Dal (S), Karnataka Janata Paksha, BSR Congress, and the
Lok Satta Party — throws up a slew of revealing statistics about what may
be the composition of the 14th Legislative Assembly.
The average assets per candidate contesting in Bangalore are worth around
Rs. 25 crore. The Congress tops this list with an average of Rs. 67 crore per
candidate, with JD(S) and BJP at Rs. 28 crore respectively. Topping the list
of the richest candidates from Bangalore is, not surprisingly given the
average, Priya Krishna (Congress) contesting from Govindrajnagar who is
worth Rs. 910 crore. Ironically, he also tops the liabilities list with
outstanding debts of Rs. 777 crore.
Standing second on the assets list is N. Nagaraju (Congress) from Hoskote
constituency (Rs. 470.13 crore) and K. Bagegowda (JD-S) with Rs. 250
crore. In contrast, eight candidates have declared assets less than Rs. 1 lakh
with KJP’s K.R. Puram candidate declaring zero assets.
The highest earner spot also went to a Congress candidate, N.A. Haris,
contesting from Shantinagar this year. His annual income is Rs. 49 crore, his
IT returns for 2011-2013 reveal.
CURBING THE PROBLEM- A LAW STUDENTS VIEW
Curb black money circulation
Circulation of black money in the country which plays a big role in the
elections can be largely curtailed by de monetising one thousand rupee
currency notes and five hundred rupee currency notes immediately.
Fine tune the RTI Act
The transparency in the government machinery is the basic requirement to
combat corruption. The Right to Information Act (RTI) should be further
fine tuned and stringent punishment should be given to the government
officials who do not provide the information sought by the citizens under
RTI Act. Huge campaign should be made amongst the citizens to encourage
them to seek information under RTI Act from the government whenever
needed by them without any sense of fear,to ensure transparency in the
Need for fast track court for election disputes
A special permanent court must be constituted to look into all issues relating
to elections at the state and central level , which should be a fast track court,
which would have the authority to ban criminals and dishonest people from
contesting in the elections.
Deny permission for more than two terms
No MLA or M P should be permitted to contest in elections more than two
times.The American law that no one can become President more than two
times is a commendable step and similar regulations should be followed in
Insist on internal democracy in political parties
Political parties should be made more accountable by being forced to do
internal audits of their finances and producing evidence of internal
democracy. At present, there is no indication that Election Commission
exercises any visible or effective supervision in this regard.
Curb family interests
To curb vested family interests which often result in money power and
muscle power, more than three blood relatives(from the same family) should
not be allowed to contest from the same party.
Scrap MP/MLA constituency fund
The MP and MLA constituency fund should be scrapped forthwith, as there
is lot of evidence of this being used for corrupt practices and generation of
black money which is used during elections.
Conduct knowledge test for candidates
While educational qualifications need not be insisted for the candidates
contesting elections, they should be asked to undergo a knowledge test by
election commission. This would ensure that ignorant people who have only
money power and muscle power do not enter the fray and win elections.
Bring down cost of election campaign
The cost of election campaign should be brought down by encouraging
campaign through print and visual media in the form of advertisements , for
which concessional charge should be fixed by the government and part of
the expenses should be subsidized by the government.
Maximum number of public meetings that can be conducted in each
constituency by each party should be fixed and processions and posters
should be banned. Anybody violating these regulations should be barred
immediately for life from contesting elections.
Educate the voters
Ultimately, nothing is a substitute for the alert and responsible citizens. In
recent times, many voters have complaints that their names have been
removed from the rolls. In today’s conditions when the names of the voters
are in the website, each citizen should take pain to see the website and
ensure that his/her name is in the list. If not, they should put up a complaint
to the election commissioner immediately. The Election Commission should
do sustained campaign to educate the voters on this. NGOs can help the
illiterate voters and those who do not have access to website in this regard.
Let the Election Commission assume a bigger role
The Election Commission and State Electoral Officers should be conscious
of the fact that they are responsible not only for conducting the elections in a
fair manner but also should ensure that right climate prevails in the country
for conducting the elections.
In spite of the present disgusting political scenario in India created by
politicians at various levels and the prevalence of corruption amongst the
government machinery, the Election Commission should strive to assume a
bigger role and responsibility for itself, rather than considering itself as a
mere machinery for conducting the elections. People have such expectation
from Election Commission and it should raise up to the occasion and meet
the expectations of the people.
If at all this country wishes to see a better tomorrow, we must act… NOW.
The criminal records list is topped by the BJP (with 30 per cent candidates
from Bangalore having criminal records), with the Congress finishing a close
second at 28 per cent. The JD(S) has a record of 19 per cent, Lok Satta Party
(18 per cent) and KJP (11 per cent).
Of the 32 with criminal cases against them, 16 are serious crimes such as
murder, criminal intimidation, voluntarily causing hurt, and cases under the
Prevention of Corruption Act. Both the Congress and the BJP have four
candidates each with serious criminal cases, followed by JD(S) with three,
KJP with two, and BSR Congress with one candidate who has serious
criminal charges against him, the report states. Three have corruption cases
booked against them — the JD(S)’ M.C. Narayana Gowda, KJP’s S.N.
Srirama and the BJP’s Suresh Kumar. Further, 40 of the 79 sitting MLAs
contesting this time have criminal cases against them.4