Well, N.S. Venkataraman, trustee, Nandini Voice for The Deprived, keeps me up-to-date with some of the social work he does all the time. Recently, he conducted an all-India essay competition for the college students. The topic: How to overcome money power and muscle power in elections. It may be recalled that Venkataraman had stood for elections some years ago and was unsuccessful.
Ten students were awarded prizes in Chennai on January 30 (Martyr’s Day) N. Vittal, former central vigilance commissioner. B.S. Raghavan, former chief secretary, Government of Tripura, and Gnani, fiery writer complemented the students for their efforts.
So, what did the students have to say? Here goes (the following is the unedited version, so you will find several errors relating to English grammar)
- 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 national level.
- 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.
Curb black money circulation
Fine-tune the RTI Act
Impose President’s rule three months before the general elections
Need for fast track court for election disputes
Deny permission for more than two terms
Insist on internal democracy in political parties
Curb family interests
Scrap MP/MLA constituency fund
Introduce finger print electronic voting
Permit online voting
Conduct knowledge test for candidates
Bring down cost of election campaign
Educate the voters
Let the Election Commission assume a bigger role
Give security to Election Commissioners / Electoral Officers