Why the public must fund candidates for elections

It is universally accepted that elections are the very source of corruption. You need several crores to contest and campaign in an election and ultimately win it. According to the Election Commission, each candidate is allowed to spend a maximum of Rs. 15 lakhs in a constituency in the state assembly election. This amount is a real joke in this day and age. Despite this stipulation, no candidate has ever landed in serious trouble for spending more than this amount. As a result, candidates, especially from major political parties, spend several crores of rupees to contest and win elections. Where does this money come from? Clearly, these are from vested interests and undeclared black money that pours in from different quarters. These contributors automatically expect favors once the candidate wins the election. So, compromises are made at the very start of the process.

None of the current political parties are ever going to bring about any reforms whatsoever to fix this problem. Over the years, they have established a well-oiled fund raising machinery that ensures the smooth and steady influx of hordes of cash to fight elections. This is often used to dole out goodies at the time of election ranging from liquor, plain hard cash, TV sets, laptops, etc., in order to win votes. The Election Commission has not shown the wherewithal to do anything about this either. So sadly, the practice continues undeterred. The amounts required to fight elections increase so dramatically with each election that it has now become virtually impossible for an honest candidate to contest and dream of winning an election without making compromises. Under these circumstances, what choices do we have? We can continue to remain bystanders while our elected representatives are well and truly sold out to big donors even before they are elected, or we can take steps to reform the process ourselves by crowd-funding candidates and parties we support that are committed to a process of open and transparent fund raising.

The Aam Aadmi party (AAP) has taken a unique step in this direction. They have sought funds directly from the people and routinely list the contributors and the amounts collected on their website. The party announced that it has managed to raise about 2 crores from the public. At the 15 lakhs per constituency stipulated by the Election Commission, AAP is going to need five times as much as it has raised to date before November to contest all 70 seats in Delhi. A tall order indeed. Considering that AAP is up against the endless funds of BJP and the Congress, this amount is clearly a paltry sum. Nevertheless, it’s a start. As a nation, if we care to curtail corruption at the very source, we need to step up and support parties like AAP that say no to contributors who wish to remain anonymous.

Click here to read the rest of the article in The Economic Times

Srinivasan’s resignation won’t solve anything

The current clamor for Srinivasan’s resignation is in no way going to solve the IPL spot fixing mess and BCCI’s woes. While I am no fan of Srinivasan, the public must realize that the attempt to phase out Mr. Srinivasan is just a routine internal power struggle within the BCCI. If you think back, there was a time when Mr. Jagmohan Dalmiya (East Zone lobby) called the shots. Then, he was slowly phased out by the ever-savvy Pawar lobby. After Pawar captured the BCCI, he went on to greener pastures and became the head of the ICC. Then, it was the turn of the southern lobby. In came Srinivasan, despite opposition from veterans even from the south like Mr. Muthiah.

As in most other highly political organizations, there are always enemies who are trying to tear you down. Srinivasan, over the course of his tenure, made matters worse by getting rules changed, owning an IPL team, antagonizing advertisers and other IPL teams, and overruling selection committee choices. With the IPL spot fixing scandal at its peak, his detractors grabbed the opportunity to try and bring him down. The truth of the matter is that if Srinivasan is forced to resign, it will only signify a shift in power from one lobby to the other. Nothing as far as the BCCI or cricket is concerned is going to change.

There are a number of very fundamental questions that need to be addressed with regard to cricket administration in the country. Why should a private club of the rich and powerful get to control the most popular game in the country? Why should this club have the privilege of selecting the team that represents the country? Why should cricket enjoy the benefits of tax payer subsidies? Why should the leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Mr. Arun Jaitley, be the head of DDCA? Why should Narendra Modi be the Chairman of the GCA? Why should Jyotiraditya Scindia be the President of the MPCA? In short, why should active politicians, who are supposed to be serving the country, have to dabble in sports? Where there is money and power and no ground rules, the ones with the biggest clout simply annex key positions as a form of spreading their fiefdom. Cricket administration, with its complete lack of accountability, provides a fertile ground for such activities.

Click here to read the rest of the article in The Economic Times