Democracy cannot be taken for granted. It has to be fiercely guarded

Democracy cannot be taken for granted. It has to be fiercely guarded

Political parties can take much money from whoever, but they should disclose it. ADR was one of the petitioners to challenge the electoral bonds scheme in the Supreme Court in 2017.

Transparency is a value in itself so that people can make up their mind whether there is any quid pro quo or not.  There's concrete proof of corporate-political nexus and corporates like Adani and Ambanis are dictating democratic ends. Would such a scheme be feasible or is it too Utopian has become a question to be debated by the commoners.

This scheme is not very different from what is often called State funding of elections. The word 'State funding' is a misnomer. Where would the State get this money from yet another before every voter,  Indeed the State would get this money from the people. Even then, it can be called 'public funding' but rather than 'State funding'

In India, unfortunately, we have a situation where people feel that anything done by the government is 'free' and funded by the State so let it be spent however the government wants.

But if it is called 'public funding', then people will realise that this is the public's money. What Dr Quraishi the then Election Commissioner of India proposed for the public funding because there is not much difference between the two schemes.

Another crucial question remains to be answered, let us say that it is agreed that public funds will be given to political parties. Whether political parties should not be allowed to accept money from other sources. 

What will then happen is that public money will be given to political parties and they will pocket the funds and continue to get money from other sources. Political parties are very good at making promises and even if they agree that they will not accept money from other sources,

We even know how much money should be budgeted for this? We need a base figure to start with, but does anybody know how much political parties spent in the last election

It is estimated by a group that Rs 55,000 crores to Rs 60,000 crores (Rs 550 billion to Rs 600 billion) were spent on the 2019 election. But if you read the full report of ADR that group, the report itself says that there are several activities that are not included in the estimates which means that the reports are not accurate.

Only political parties themselves know how much they have spent. There is no way to realistically estimate how much money should be provided for this purpose. Therefore, these schemes are not practical.

The only answer is transparency. Political parties can take however much money from whoever, but they should disclose it. Transparency is a value in itself so that people can make up their mind whether there is any quid pro quo or not.

The electoral bond disclosure will impact the coming election. The petition in 2017 was filed as soon as the electoral bond scheme was announced. The scheme was notified in 2018. Nobody questioned if this petition would influence the 2019 election and even 2024 election. 

The five applications before the Supreme Court to hear the case earlier which were not accepted. The Supreme Court decided to hear the case in October 2023 and reserved their judgment on November 2, 2023.

In their wisdom they gave the judgment in February 2024 which happens to be very close to the general election. Therefore,the petitioners did not file this petition to impact any election.

Secondly, in their petition their plea is for the scheme to be declared unconstitutional. This disclosure has happened on the order of the Supreme Court which we appreciate very much. The petitioner's intention was to bring transparency to political financing.

Whether this will impact elections because we are not in the business of forecasting elections. It has been discussed that the fallout is the business of improving democracy.

Several people are interpreting it that we did this to hurt or help a political party which was not our intention. We are neutral and don't even think about who will win or who will lose.

People will have to disclose their mind when they press the button on Election Day. The nation's job is to help the voter make an informed choice. So I don't know if the voter will be influenced by this or not.

There is concern about India being increasingly described as an 'electoral autocracy'. This commoner  agrees with this description. Indian democracy needs to be improved and the people have been trying to do this for 25 years.

The nation less BJP has been trying to improve Indian democracy since 1999. But after the inception of the BJP, India started feeling that democracy is not a destination, it is a journey. There is no factual democracy in India. Indians are on their own democratic path. This is so for every democratic country.

Our Independence is trying to make the country move forward on the democratic path and this is something that can never be fully achieved.  For example, the Congress condemns the electoral bonds, but it was a recipient and did not spurn the money.

Every political party is hypocritical in practice. Every party criticises something at one time and says it is good at another.

Opposition leaders have claimed this could be our last free and fair election. Do you share this concern that is felt in some quarters It is very difficult to say what could happen. Anything could happen. Democracy has to be fiercely guarded. .

Democracy cannot be taken for granted. India has to be on guard that her democracy remains effective, healthy and efficient.