(This is a short essay on the topic "Indian Elections: A Magnanimous Affair With Its Own Pros And Cons" written for a college project.)
India is the largest democratic country in the world and it has also been the most successful democratic country so far. India has a permanent constitutional body, the Election Commission of India, which conducts the Indian Elections. The Constitution of India has vested in the Election Commission of India the superintendence, direction and control of the entire process for conduction of elections to Parliament and Legislature of every State, and to the offices of President and Vice-President of India. This body ensures free and fair conduction of elections in India. The Indian Elections can be accounted to be the most ‘celebrated’ political affair in the country. Many reasons can be elucidated to support the fact that Indian Elections are a magnanimous affair in the country.
The first and foremost reason is the large population of India. India is the second most populated country in the world, accounting for 17.4% of the world’s total population. When it comes to elections, a large portion of the eligible voter population tends to give keen interest in politics. It is during this time that political parties release their election manifestoes and their leaders start visiting the different constituencies to meet the people and encourage voting in their party’s favour. All these cost a lot of money to the political parties and their leaders. To meet the ever-growing monetary requirements of the political parties, various players come into the scene; like, big corporate giants enter the political market to support and fund political parties to some extent. Also, a particular amount of deposit is procured from the contesting candidates by the authorities as a security deposit. Likewise, there are various ways by which money is procured by parties and leaders on political interest, which makes the elections magnanimous for the political parties.
The money raised is used in a variety of ways. The most important of all is the campaigning phase. It is during this time that leaders meet the general public and present their political agenda and manifesto for the upcoming elections. This phase, used to win the minds and hearts of the public, witnesses the spending of a colossal amount of money in different ways-
1. Thousands of posters and banners are prepared at cornucopia and hung in various parts of the constituencies as well as in various parts of the country. These cost a lot to the political parties who try to make the most crisp and informative posters (as a picture speaks a thousand words).
2. The electoral candidates visit their constituency and also different parts of the country. Different modes of travel, mainly by road or by air, are preferred by the candidates, which means that a lot of money is spent in travel- be it in the fuel (petrol/diesel) required by the vehicles, or the travelling and fooding allowances of the security personnels who accompany the candidates during their campaigning visits.
3. Political parties try to lure the voters by tempting them with certain materials for their daily requirements as well as for luxury requirements. Sometimes cash is directly poured into the voter’s pocket and sometimes voters are lured with different ‘materials’. Media says these ‘materials’ have changed from blankets and clothes to laptops over the years. In this way, elections turn magnanimous for the voters when they get many ‘gifts’ from political parties.
4. Although some candidates visit their constituency quite often, there also exist candidates who just make guest appearances or helicopter visits during the pre-election period. And when such candidates visit the people, they ensure that no eligible voter is left dissatisfied. From audacious speeches to fake promises, and materialistic gifts to monetary donations, they leave no stone unturned to woo the voters, which again involves the spending of a large amount of money.
5. It is said that “Health is wealth”. Campaigning involves a lot of energy in the form of vociferous speeches to travelling endurance. The leaders need to be in sound health to be able to hold maximum rallies and reach optimum mass in limited time. Some amount of money is also spent on ensuring the appropriate health and healthcare of the political leaders during the election period.
The election period also includes a lot of illegal activities going on without the knowledge of the concerned authorities. The most common is the “betting” on the winning candidate. Some bet on the probability of the victory of the candidate they support. If they win the bet, they get excessive returns in the form of money and if they lose, they are left with empty pockets to sleeping on the streets depending upon the magnitude of the bet they had placed.
In this way, the Indian Elections prove to be a magnanimous affair, be it for the candidates or for the voters. And, like every coin has two sides, the Indian Election also has its own merits and demerits. India’s position as the most successful democracy is a testimony to the fact that the merits of the Indian Elections overshadow the demerits of the same.
It is during the election season that the feeling of democracy is effectively instilled amidst the population at large. People feel the winds of democracy in the form of active and audacious campaigns, posters and banners hovering over every nook and corner of their vicinity. People tend to understand their responsibility better and get to exercise their brain cells to decide their choice for the most appropriate candidate from their stance.
The administration gets a chance to be reviewed and refined post elections. So, elections provide an ample chance to the people to choose the right candidates to govern the country, for it is the elected leaders who supervise and direct the administrative officials for the smooth running and functioning of the country.
The elections provide a healthy platform to the different political parties contesting the elections to showcase their election agendas and manifestoes, and their vision to implement an effective governance policy for the holistic development of the country. This leads to a competitive spirit among the parties as each party tries to come up with their best ideas to develop the nation and woo the population. The performance of the previous government (or ruling party) is also judged before votes are cast in their favour in the upcoming elections. As a result, the party in power also tries to deliver the best performance during their tenure so as not to lose the confidence of the public. This has been best seen in the recently held Lok Sabha elections where the ten-year-in-power United Progressive Alliance (UPA) lost to the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) because of its poor performance during its second term in power.
During the election season, much enthusiasm and excitement is seen among the first-time voters who get their right to exercise their vote for the first time. They tend to take interest in politics, and as a result the youth of the nation gets to know the multiple dimensions of politics. Their say means a lot to the electoral contestants and proves to be a deciding factor of victory and defeat.
People living in the villages and remote areas are also benefitted to an extent during the elections. They get to reap benefits in the form of cash or kind during the campaigning visits or guest appearances of electoral candidates who may be visiting them just once before the election season, and not during any time of their stay in power.
Indian Elections also has its own demerits, as stated above. And when one speaks of the demerits, the first thing that comes to the mind is the colossal amount of malpractices that are practised, both before the pre-election period and post-election period, including the day of voting. Rigging, luring voters with money at the polling booths and threatening voters by using hired goons tend to occupy the top slots when it comes to malpractices. Over the past few years, the amount of malpractices employed on the day of elections has come down to a certain extent with the emerging strength of the police and administration as well as the Election Commission of India. Yet, during the pre-election period, political parties and electoral candidates are seen violating the Model Code of Conduct. Sometimes enormous amount of money, beyond the permissible limit is used for the election purpose by a certain party, and at other times, parties violate the Model Code of Conduct by using unfair means to woo voters or criticising and defaming other parties with unacceptable facts or methods.
Political parties sometimes are seen busy emphasising more on defaming opponent parties, rather than speaking out their own principles and vision in front of the mass. Candidates try to brainwash voters by providing wrong and irrelevant information about their opponents. This dirty and unhealthy politics disturbs the thought process of the common man and he finds it difficult to come up with a concrete decision of his own.
The amount of money spent on the elections is also one of the greatest demerits of the Indian Elections. It needs to be given a serious thought. Money drained in this way tends to affect the economy of the country to some extent and concrete steps need to be taken to check the use of this practice.
Thus, the Indian Elections are indeed a magnanimous affair with its own pros and cons, where the pros overshadow the cons. But with the advancement of time and improvement of technology, the Indian Elections are positively changing and we, as responsible Indian citizens, can believe that things will change for the better and a day will come when the most successful democratic country in the world will hold the most transparent, free and fair elections which will leave all the political critics silent and give India an exquisite reason to rejoice.
© Barnadhya Rwitam Sharma
Images courtesy: Google