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Monday, April 22, 2024

Alluring Election Promises, Only Intentions To Garner Votes

In a democracy, the power to block or allow the march of gifts rests with the electorate. There needs to be a consensus between regulating irrational gifts and ensuring that voters are not swayed by irrational promises. Constructive debate and discussion in parliament are difficult because freebie culture has an impact directly or indirectly on every political party. Therefore, judicial participation is needed to propose remedies.

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By: Dr. Satyavan Saurabh

During elections in the country, we often see a lot of big promises from different political parties. A free laptop, scooty, free air travel, free TV, free electricity, free stove, etc. is included in the long list. The Election Commission has now started preparations to curb lucrative election promises. Regarding the election promises, the Election Commission has written a letter to all the political parties and has asked that the information about the fund i.e. financial viability of the promises made by the party during the elections should also be given to the voters. The Election Commission has sought the opinion of all the parties in this matter.

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The Election Commission has written a letter to all the parties asking them to give accurate information about their promises to the voters and tell whether there are financial resources for it or not or how it will be mobilized. When the parties give authentic information to the voters about the economic viability of their promises, then the voters will be able to assess it. He does not give complete information about the election promises to the voters and the undue impact on the financial stability of the country cannot be ignored. The commission says that the hollow promises made during the elections make the country hollow, and its far-reaching effects can be seen. Political parties will also have to tell whether the promises made by them are sustainable within the financial structure of the state or central government. For this, the Election Commission has written a letter to the political parties.

The parties have been asked to give suggestions on this. Some opposition parties are also opposing this suggestion of the Election Commission. At the same time, the issue of free schemes or say freebies in elections is still pending in the Supreme Court. In August, the Supreme Court referred the matter of free election promises to a three-judge bench for reconsideration. During the hearing, the Supreme Court said that it would be right to constitute an expert committee on this issue, but before that, it is necessary to consider many questions.

Various committees and commissions have examined our election system and electoral machinery as well as the election process and suggested improvements. These committees and commissions are the Tarkunde Committee (Year 1974-75), the Dinesh Goswami Committee on Electoral Reforms (the Year 1990), the Vohra Committee on Criminalization of Politics (the Year 1993), the Indrajit Gupta Committee on State Financing in Elections (the Year 1998), Report of the Law Commission on Electoral Reforms (the Year 1999), Report of the Election Commission on Electoral Reforms (the Year 2004), Veerappa Moily Committee on Ethics in Governance (2007), Tankha Committee on Election Laws and Electoral Reforms (The year 2010).

Empty election promises will have far-reaching implications. The idea that emerged was that the election watchdog cannot remain a mute spectator and ignore the undesirable effect of certain promises on the conduct of free and fair elections. The Election Commission said that disclosure of promises in a prescribed format will bring standardization-like information and help voters to make comparisons and take an informed decision. This will help in maintaining equal opportunities for all political parties and candidates. To make these steps mandatory, there is a need to amend the relevant sections in the Election Commission’s Planning Model Code of Conduct.

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In a democracy, the power to block or allow the march of gifts rests with the electorate. There needs to be a consensus between regulating irrational gifts and ensuring that voters are not swayed by irrational promises. Constructive debate and discussion in parliament are difficult because freebie culture has an impact directly or indirectly on every political party. Therefore, judicial participation is needed to propose remedies.

The Supreme Court has recently recommended the creation of an apex authority to provide recommendations on how to regulate gifts given by political parties. It’s always better to provide people with useful skills than to give them gifts. There is nothing wrong with having a policy-based comprehensive social security program that helps lift the poor out of poverty. But such an event requires careful preparation and cannot be prepared just before the election. Finance Commission chief NK Singh had recently said that political competition over such concessions is a “quick passport to fiscal disaster”. Therefore, there is a need to avoid them before they become the norm.

India, the largest democracy in the world is truly incredible in its size and stature. The people are the ultimate source of power in a democracy and its success and failure depend on their intelligence, consciousness, and alertness. A government “by the people and by the people” should naturally provide ideal governance “for the people”, but in reality, it is far from over. The core issue with democracy is that voters do not make rational or truly informed choices. Their political decision-making seems to be driven by preconceived norms as well as a predilection for immediate gratification, thus keeping most democracies focused on the short-term development aspect. Thus, various concessions and gifts disturb the sanctity of the election. The campaign by the candidates has a big impact on the personality and choice of the voter.

Distribution of gifts and donations in an election or pre-election existence is a deeply ingrained tradition accustomed to democratic India. Freebies often take the form of cash, bribes, free rice, saris, or loan waivers, and its compulsory practice by parties has largely taken center stage in all election campaigns. Therefore, there has been an increased tendency to give gifts in cash or kind to voters during the pre-and post-election period. The growing prospect of such lucrative schemes is a factor in their apparent success in garnering votes, and building up a vote bank in the process. (The author is a poet, independent journalist, and columnist)

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The Hills Times
The Hills Timeshttps://www.thehillstimes.in/
The Hills Times, a largely circulated English daily published from Diphu and printed in Guwahati, having vast readership in hills districts of Assam, and neighbouring Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.
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