Election dates have been announced today by the Election Commission of India. With the announcement, the Model Code of Conduct has come in to effect, which impels the political parties to observe agreed principles of good conduct. Under its provisions, the ECI keeps a watch on the speech and spending of the political parties and the candidates, so that misuse of money or religion is minimized. I wish it becomes the norm rather than an exception during the election period of around three months from the day of announcement to the declaration of the results. This is the time to watch the use, misuse and abuse of speech- the venerated Right to Speech, Thought & Expression. People are entertained by politicians, press, electronic media and commentators. We shall be picking up interesting instances through the run up to the election 2014.Those practising vaaniyog will certainly have an edge over their rivals.
Let us start with the word “donation”. It is donation time for the givers and the takers. There is no limit on the amount of donation, nor is there any tax on the collections. For the smart candidates elections are business time- they collect enough donations to fund their election and spare substantial chunk for use in future. Donations are supposed to be voluntary, but extortion or ransom need not be distant cousins to donation. Big corporate make huge donations but even small roadside vendors have to display a liberal attitude and contribute willingly for the greatest festival of democracy. As far as it is understood, donations are made without any expectation of returns of any kind, excepting blessings in the name of the Almighty. But political donations are different- they are “investments” for which the donor expects attractive returns. It is the biggest limitation of democracy. The problem arises when donation is sought in the name of “clean politics”. Politics and clean? It is a contradiction in terms. But anything and everything goes in electoral politics. Politics is a synonym of power. Power corrupts, we have been told. Therefore promising exercise of executive and state power in a clean manner, that is corruption free manner, is mere election-speak. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has started a campaign for election funding in the name of “donate for clean politics”! Nobody knows if the donor is “clean or unclean”! Once elections are over and the party rides to power, all notions of clean politics are forgotten without the masses ever knowing when it happened. Besides, unclean hands can always make the donations through clean hands or from clean accounts, as high stakes prompt them to make smart investment in time. Politicians seem to live under the notion that they have got every Right to Propaganda & Disinformation. The print and electronic media support is bought easily as these establishments too are business entities run on sound business principles of profit. The fabled independence of the press is suspended for the election time!
The AAP has been especially successful in getting financial and technical support from the Indians living abroad. Their resources are again being tapped in the typical Indian sentimental style- forgo one or two lunches and donate to AAP for clean politics. The NRIs living in America and Europe and other developed countries always dream of doing something for their own country. Perhaps they wish to replicate all round development in the country of their residence. But realisation of such dreams needs much more than occasional donations to immature politicians or their parties, e.g. their expertise and service for life. Rome was not built in a day!
The bitter truth is that donation makes politics foul. It reduces democracy to the government of the donors, by the donors and for the donors! Clean politics is no abiding belief of the politician. Coinage like clean politics is only a ploy to trap the innocent masses, who soon become victims of breach of trust. Giving power in to the hands of politicians so insincere is a sure recipe for disaster that a nation of the size and complexity of India decidedly cannot suffer. It is not enough to agitate in the name of corruption and promise clean politics without a vision and mission of goals and means and the time table for implementation. Any scholar of political science knows that the treasury benches are always corrupt for the opposition benches, and honest (clean) for the government. There is no change in the rhetoric even when the occupants exchange their seats. Politics is just a means to gain power. Whether power is gained by fair or foul means is irrelevant for the propagandist politicians. Power has the potency to corrupt. Clean politics corrupts rather soon. Politics is neither a science nor a scripture, rather it is all craft. The craftier make a success of it in elections. Donors beware: watch if your donation is going into the hands of clean individuals for the express purpose of clean politics or you are being tricked, seduced and sucked.