Sunday, October 24, 2010

Electing Scums Is Too Expensive!

By Manuwant Choudhary

I am not one of them who celebrate the largeness of Indian democracy I'd vote for quality anyday but it is shocking enough to see so many scums get elected in our democracy that we overlook the monetary costs involved in the exercise.

For the past two weeks all economic activity has come to a halt in Bihar - the reason being the government seizes any transport vehicle that ply on our roads. Vehicles are seized even when not needed.

I am not getting into the costs involved in the shutdown of a state for the sake of elections and the human costs involved.

Just take the basic costs involved in the actual conduct of the polls and you will see that this democracy is too expensive and just as our Netas neglected roads and bridges in the country they have in their 60 years not been able to come up with fresh ideas on how to vote with the minimum costs.

At a single booth there is one polling officer who is paid Rs.2500, plus three polling agents each of whom get Rs.1500. This totals to Rs.7,000/- If you include the costs of policemen then you could add another 23000 rupees per booth. So roughly Rs.30,000 per booth is a conservative estimate. If there are more than a 1000 voters in a booth then the number of officers increase.

With 200 booths in every assembly constituency this cost goes upto 6000000/- rupees.

Each political party is required to have a polling representative at every booth. If they are paid as low as Rs.3000 then each party spends Rs.600000 for 200 booths per constituency. If there are ten parties they together spend 6000000/- rupees in each constituency.

So, the government and the political parties spend 1,20,00,000 in each constituency.

Bihar has 243 assembly constituencies so this figure goes up to 2916000000/- rupees.

Thats the simple arithmetic just for polling day.

This does not include the cost of vehicles and the fuel they burn, the cost of Observers (who spend more than they observe), the 13 helicopters of the political leaders parked in the Patna hangar, the cost of campaigning for a month by political parties, the bribes paid to officials and the police and the agents and the voters.

And to top it all the Indian government offers a food subsidy of 80,000 crore rupees to woo Bihar voters.

The Election Commission sits in New Delhi but does not say this violates the Code of Conduct. Couldn't the announcements wait till Bihar elections were over?

For the Congress they had to offer cheap food if they are to beat Nitish Kumar's free bicycles !

All news channels have announced their exit polls despite the Code of Conduct.

So who is the Code of Conduct really for? One voter called me up the other day and said, "The only people who lose due to the Code of Conduct are the poor rikshaw-wallahs and the thelawallahs and the bannerwallahs....just the poor who suffer because of the control on campiagning.

The money which would go to the poorest in past elections has simply stopped going to them and then Rahul Gandhi flies in by a chopper and says Bihar's poor remain poor.

The one's who make money are helicopter owners, the political touts, the government officials, the paramilitary (who should be in Kashmir not Bihar), the police, the District Magistrate.

And the candidates are simply scums.

Like one independent candidate campaign on a rikshaw said, "Are jo chatai par nahin bol sakta, jo chauki par khara hokar nahin bol sakta woh assembly mein kya bolega...issliye aap mombattee chaap par vote den."

(If they cannot speak on a straw mat, and they cannot speak from a cot..then how can you expect them to speak in the assembly...Vote for the Candle!"

In this age of innvovations and technology I wonder why our software engineers only cater for solutions to US corporates. Or why a Nandan Nilekani is wasting India's precious resources for a Unique Number.

Our scientists only want to become rocket scientists so they can occupy the big bhawan of Kalam...they have no solutions for our democracy or the right to recall.


Barun Mitra said...

Democracy does not come cheap! There are 5.5 crore voters in Bihar, so the per voter cost on polling day is Rs 53!

irajeshme said...

considering there are 1.87 lakh tax payers in bihar, it is 15K per tax payer.
a days wages lost for unorganized sector of approx same no.of voters.
business loss of almost 2 weeks, due to confiscation of private vehicles and closure of govt. machinery.
and yu surely are right barun democracy is surely not cheap.
best part is there is no alternative either for the system or the goons who we are up against!!