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  2. 2. MONEY AND MUSCLE POWER IN POLL SCENARIO  Money power plays a huge role i the ou try s po er set-up. People have become wise and pragmatic. They cannot be fooled by glowing promises by leaders with charisma. And when a candidate goes to a oter a d asks for his ote, he is likely to say: “ho e the o ey… The party a d the a didates it chooses have got to be rich. Just check how much money each member of the state assemblies or Parliament has. Political parties have their own special ways of raising money. The ruling party gathers fi a ial support y dis reet, la desti e deals ith ri h folks i the of a e do atio s . A lot of pressure is exerted to get these forced contributions. There are very few candidates who can win without spending any extra money. Most candidates have no go but to use money power. The criminals in the party are experts at wringing out money from people.  Muscle power: All parties have members working in Parliament and in state assemblies with criminal charges like murder, rape, extortion, kidnapping, assault etc. How did criminals get there? A member is not a criminal unless, after a trial, the court declares he is one and sends him to jail. It is only if a member is convicted that he becomes a criminal. There have been proposals that anyone who has a criminal record should not be allowed to contest elections also supported by the Election Commission. But evidently political parties do not want a ban with regard to the choice of criminals to contest elections. It has become clear that it is impossible to prevent money and muscle power from making an impact in the poll scenario. Time and again, the proposal in this regard has been rejected by all political parties. The growing role of money and muscle power is a major challenge in India  Since parties are focused only on winning elections, they tend to use short-cuts to win elections.  They tend to nominate those candidates who have or can raise lots of money.  Rich people and companies who give funds to the parties tend to have influence on the policies and decisions of the party.  In some cases, parties support criminals who can win elections.  Democrats all over the world are worried about the increasing role of rich people and big companies in democratic politics.
  3. 3. CAUSES OF BROADER PROBLEMS: * The targets for 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 conditions.  Such poor citizens are cajoled with bribing for votes and are also threatened with muscle power which is nothing but a byproduct of money power. Considering the prevalence of the twin evils of money 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 national level.  There is little chance for a common man with honest intentions to contest elections, even if he is capable. The political parties are responsible for this situation, since they only consider the i i g pote tial of the perso for o i ati g hi as the party a didate. 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 direct consequence of corruption in government machinery, have made money and muscle power in elections possible. Therefore, without eradicating corruption, it would not be possible to defeat such corruption.  Obviously, those in pivotal positions 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 its own limitations, since it depends upon the government machinery to conduct elections, which are under the control of many dishonest politicians.
  4. 4.  Curb black money circulation before the elections can be largely curtailed by de monetizing one thousand rupee currency notes and five hundred rupee currency notes.  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.  I pose Preside t’s rule three o ths efore the ge eral ele tio s to ensure fair elections by ensuring that the politicians would not be in power at the time of conducting the elections.  The negative votes (not voting for anybody) should be accepted by the government and implemented as citizens should have the liberty to reject all the candidates if they feel like none of the a didate s deser i g e ough.  A special permanent fast track court must be constituted to look into all issues relating to elections at the state and central level and which would have the authority to ban criminals and dishonest people from contesting the polls.  Deny permission for more than two terms to MLA or MPs.  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. PROPOSED SOLUTIONS:
  5. 5. IMPLEMENTATION OF THE SOLUTION:  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.  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.  Election Commission should introduce finger print based electronic voting machines, which would count a vote to be legal only when the finger print of the person matches with the one in the database. This would completely eliminate false voting.  Election Commission should also consider online elections to allow voters to vote online. This would ensure greater participation and ensure fearless voting, especially in terrorist dominated and violence prone areas.  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.
  6. 6. IMPLEMENTATION OF THE SOLUTION:  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. 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.  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. I today s o ditio s he the a es of the oters are i the e site, ea h 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.  The Election Commission and State Electoral Officers should be conscious of the fact that they are responsible for conducting the elections in a fair manner. In spite of the present political scenario in India created by politicians at various levels 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.  Those holding positions of Election Commissioners and Electoral Officers should be protected from threats from the politicians at the time of elections or later, by being given personal security by the government till they attain the age of 70, if they so desire.  The Election Commissioners and State Electoral Officers should interact with the people belonging to lower income group living in rural areas (as majority of the votes come from them and they are gullible) to educate them that selling their votes would cause both the country and their personal welfare dearly in the long run.
  7. 7. REFORMS TO PREVENT CRIMINALS AND MUSCLE-MONEY POWER IN POLITICS We conducted a short survey among some college students all over the country especially from West Bengal. Here is an assimilation of what they said: People having criminal records shouldn't be allowed to stand for elections. Unless people get quality education they'll be fooled around by goons criminals can't be prevented from being elected. Illiteracy should be brought to minimum so that there is a reduction in the number of criminals and increase in the number of fair voting since only educated people would be nominated. the election commission should look into all criminal records, and certainly not allow anybody to contest the elections if he/she has even got an ongoing investigation. before choosing the nominees, their educational background and past life should be taking into accord. Supreme Court's Order of Preventing Criminals From taking part in the Elections should be passed as a Bill and not Ignored. Not only criminals, people having educational qualification less than a pre-defined standard should be barred from elections. Laws should be harsh and binding irrespective of rich or poor. A better and efficient distribution of power is required between the judiciary and bureaucracy so that both can cross check each other. Politics should be professionalized, people should be made ministers or heads only if they have competent knowledge in their era. Educated youth should be encouraged to vote as it is difficult to bribe them into changing their opinion. The public should be given a detailed account of every single penny spent by the government. The money power naturally will be reduced. As far as muscle power is concerned, the police and the judiciary need to be free from political influences. People who are nominated in the elections should be honest so as not to bribe people or use muscle power and forcefully make the common people to vote in favor of them. We should also learn to refuse bribes and to remove the fear of muscle power. As Long As "Vote Bank Politics" is there in India, it is very difficult to reduce money and muscle power in politics.
  8. 8. Impacts of the Solution: The proposed solutions can have various impacts on the various aspects of our nation:  The new system will begin a new era as the number of criminals entering the Legislative system will be greatly reduced.  Since every candidate has to pass a basic knowledge test, the number of ignorant candidates will greatly reduce.  Because of the highly developed information technology new kinds of Electronic Voting Machines a e de eloped hi h ill use the oter s fi ger pri t as his/her unique identity.  If the Presidential Rule is invoked before the elections then parties would not be at power to tamper votes.  If circulation of Rs.1000 and Rs.500 notes is stopped before the elections then use black money as a source of bribe ca be curbed.  The whole electoral system will be reformed.  With the introduction of a new system, there initially might be chaos and confusion. That might lead to wastage of votes as people might not understand the system altogether.  Such a convenient system is bound to receive resistance from the rich and powerful people and thus lead to violence initially.  The simple rural people would not be comfortable with such a system and since they are the majority voters, this might hamper the new system thus slowing it down.  It might pose a threat to the well being of the Election Commissioners as criminals would not be able to contest elections and they will try to harm the officials in other nasty ways.  If a candidate is wrongfully implicated in a crime, his/her candidacy will also be at stake. Based on a survey conducted mostly on college students, we found out their opinions! Our youths are aware of malpractices like Vote bank politics and also are aware that every term a large number of criminals are elected to the Lok Sabha! How aware are you about Vote Bank Politics on a scale of1 to 5? On a scale of 1 to 5 are you aware that 162MPs elected in 2009 are criminals?
  9. 9. Data collected via survey: The above represents some of the data that our survey revealed. It is no different from the actual story of our country: •The highest number of votes are cast by the people belonging to the lowermost economic strata. •The votes of the lower class people can easily be modified by money and muscle power thus weakening the major source of vote in our country. •Reforms has to be introduced so as to ensure fair play in politics. •Criminals and ignorant people should not be allowed to contest elections. •Voters in India has to be alert and responsible.