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I ndia is indeed a democracy, but for whom? Is it a democracy for those in a position of power or for the common man? The blatant use of money and muscle power by politicians surely appears to tilt the argument overwhelmingly in favour of the former in a country where the combined net worth of MPs is estimated at a huge Rs.28 billion.
A research by National Election Watch (a conglomeration of NGOs that lobbies for electoral reforms) heralds an interesting analysis. A candidate who is worth more than Rs.50 million is around 75 times more likely to win an election as compared to one whose is worth less than Rs.1 million. In fact, only 15 out of 3,437 candidates (i.e. 0.44%) who contested the recently held Lok Sabha elections; and whose worth is less than Rs.1 million, had actually won, whereas 6% of the candidates whose worth is between Rs.1 million and Rs.5 million have come out as victorious. This state of affairs continues as we go upward. We see that 19% of candidates with worth of Rs.5 million to Rs.50 million and 33% of candidates with worth of more than Rs.50 million have defeated their rivals in the last Lok Sabha Election. Further, the sum total of assets of 64 Union Cabinet Ministers comes to a whopping Rs.5 billion, and 23 of them fall into the segment of Rs.50 million plus. Does it favour democracy?
The Indian National Congress, being at the helm of affairs for the most part of the post Independence era, quite naturally, has the maximum number of crorepati Member of Parliaments (, 141 out of 306). Bharatiya Janata Party is a distant second with 58. Samajwadi Party and BSP follow them in the ranks with 14 and 13 crorepati MPs respectively. Surprisingly, the Left is a laggard here with only one.
America’s second President John Adams once said, “Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide.” The manner in which money and power continue to be in the hands of a few, one wonders how soon Indian democracy could be headed the same way!
By:- Sayan Ghosh
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