Round Table Discussion on Elections-2019
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A round table discussion was held at the VIF to discuss the various aspects of Election 2019. Dr A Surya Prakash, Chairman Prasar Bharti, led the discussions.

The participants expressed their concern at the growing role of money and muscle in the elections. In just the first two phases of this election, currency, drugs and liquor worth about Rs 2500 cr have been seized by the authorities. The use of tainted money and power poses a threat to the legitimacy of the electoral process. It was pointed out that in a majority of the Lok Sabha constituencies, serious candidates spend on an average Rs 20 cr during the campaign, which means that candidates are spending over RS 20,000 cr in this election! Much of this money is used to lure the voters. This is well above the Rs 70 Lakh ceiling prescribed by the Election Commission for Lok Sabha constituencies in the larger states. Given this reality, no ordinary person can hope to participate in the election because of the high expenditure involved.

The method of candidate selection by the political parties is non-transparent. Often, they distribute tickets on the basis of how much money a candidate can spend and contribute to the party kitty. India has 4910 public representatives in just the two Houses of Parliament (790) and the state assemblies (4120). If four candidates contest the election in a serious manner in every constituency, we would have about 20,000 candidates with deep pockets participating in the electoral process. These are the people with money who can afford to contest the elections. The rest of the population of this vast country cannot think of contesting in the electoral process because of the humangous costs involved.

It was also pointed out that over the years, a few political families and their networks have begun to dominate the electoral constituencies. The resulting concentration of power and money in their hands poses a big threat to democracy. Elected representatives to Parliament and state assemblies tend to accumulate vast sums of assets during their tenure as legislators. This is a worrisome trend for democracy. Concern was also expressed at the rising incidence of violence during the elections in some parts of the country like West Bengal, although large-scale violence and booth capturing of the kind seen in the 1970s and 1980s in many states is now a thing of the past.

The participants were of the view that solution to curb the use of money and reduce the influence of political families must be found. The Election Commission, which has vast power under Article 324 of the Constitution, must come down heavily to curb the prevailing malpractices in the elections.

Event Date 
April 23, 2019

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