Monday, October 3, 2022

Money in politics: Greatest threat to democracy

Some say that to do ‘good’ to the society, one should join politics, while others without power and authority say that one cannot do any good and so politics is the channel to do good. However, George Bernard Shaw said “Politics is surely the last resort for the scoundrel.” Nonetheless, polis is all about governance which ought to be based on ethical values. And so, ethics and values are the core principles that ought to govern politics, but in reality, it is money that augurs power which in turn influences politics. Governance should be the determining factor, instead money determines politics. Everyday we come across all kinds of scams.
We come across how money lures those who govern and how leaders swindle money in millions and flee the countries and those who are indicted face punitive punishments. Recent statement by Rajnath Singh, the defence minister exhorted BJP is “a party with difference, while others are party with differences.” I thought that he was referring to honest dealing in money matters, instead within BJP there are no internal differences, while all other parties have internal conflicts. So, all political parties have fault lines when it comes to money matters.
In India, no political party is above board when it comes to transparency and accountability. Every political party is soaked and entrenched in corruption. Political parties of all shades and ideologies are tainted with corruption. In recent times increasingly we across scams of all sorts that covers areas of governance both at the Centre as well as the state governments. The scams run to several lakh crores. Deals that cover commissions, overseas trips, gifts in terms of movable and immovable things; forming the governments at the state levels by toppling the ruling governments resorting to ‘resort politics’ luring the MLAs and MPs of the ruling party shunting and shuttling in charted flights for defecting to another involves huge sums of money.
Billionaires and millionaires continue to amass wealth in India and thus influence government policies and programs as they doll-out huge sums of money for elections, political parties, PM and CM relief funds; donate big moneys whenever there are catastrophises. In return they are favoured with mammoth contracts. Vested interests are at work in multiple ways. Money is at play for entrepreneurial and political interests. It is deeply soaked in the system. Corruption in India is systematic and has pervaded into all the organs of the Indian society.
In such a context where money roosts democracy and so democracy has lost its essence. The maxim the politicians invoke: “Democracy is of the people, by the people and for the people” has lost its relevance as democratically elected representatives switch sides for money and power. Nowadays defections and betrayals are so common in India’s polity. It is said that people are at the centre of any democratic process, but what we have been witnessing now is once the elections get over and governments are formed the people who brought them to power not part of any initiative. The electorates in democracy remain as mere vote bank, not as active participants. Once in five years people are remembered and shower with promises that’s it
Democracy has come to just elections and numbers. Whichever party controls more money wins. In such a setting election are just farcical exercise. The humanity is facing the worst existential crisis. The citizens and electorates in democracies live on the cliff-edge. The political and economic landscapes need to change by all means. There should be a total overhauling in our political and industrial complex. India’s parliamentary democracy is currently reduced to just number game. Those who represent these numbers have forgotten the faces that elected them. In functioning democracy people are the mainstay, not the sidewalk.
People are naturally enjoined with emotion, reason, sensibilities, resolve and resilience. Electorates know who to vote and who to be voted out. Their perceptions on polity are intriguing while electing state and central governments. They are engines who actually the drive democracy, subjects of history and makers of their destiny. Electorates can understand the swings, defections, poaching and toppling for money and power that have become common features of our democracy. The ways the elected representative and the governments switch over sides for vested interests manifests the fragile side of our democratic process.
Power is bestowed to the people in a democratic constitutional framework. Constitutional provisions including our democratic ethos revolves around the maxim: “for the people, by the people and to the people.” This is why when people exert their voice in unison, it is called as ‘peoples’ power’. Peoples’ power is the only one major determining factor that holds the key when all the constitutional rights extended to the citizens are usurped or negated. Citizens know well when to come together. Collective memory of people suddenly erupts and none can stop.
Unable to bear corruption and money laundering and authoritarian rule there have been number of instances that occurred within the country as well as outside how people went on mass uprisal. Governments should not take peoples’ tolerance for granted. Government at the Centre is talking about for corruption there’s ‘zero tolerance’, but corruption manifests at all levels of human activities. When citizens lose their patience, then they will go all out for protests. Protests and resistance are considered as last resort so to mass protests and resistance.
This is why we have a catch that comes handy to the citizens. Nowadays we keep reiterating that protests and resistance are part of democracy. We should see to the very fact that money should never be allowed to dictate democracy. If money is allowed to take credence over people, then money will be at the center of democracy, displacing people. This is what happening currently in India. Corruption in all forms has crept into all aspects and organs of Indian society. It should be fixed within the constitutional means and methods. People who are the stakeholders of democracy should be reached and be made aware of and be prepared for non-violent civil disobedience.
Dr. I. John Mohan Razu
Professor of Social Ethics