E – Elections, EB and EVM | #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z
Elections are a celebration of democracy. But in India they are more than that – the entire country comes to a standstill and whether you are buying vegetables on streets or enjoying a tea break in your corporate office, everybody is discussing the same thing, which party will win the next elections. Off late a newer trend has emerged with everybody going overboard on the usage of social media – people are losing friends, brothers aren’t talking to each other and strangers are bonding like anything only because of the ideology you support.
Cost of Elections
The General Elections of 2019 will be the costliest elections ever; it will cost an unprecedented Rs 50,000 crore ($7 billion), according to the New Delhi-based Centre for Media Studies.
During an event, the current PM once stated that the entire elections cost around Rs 4000 crore. Do you know that the entire cost of BJP’s campaign was in excess of Rs 5000 crore in 2014? By that logic, their entire campaign was beyond the total cost of the entire election process.
BJP’s hired fleet of aircraft and helicopters is the highest ever in Indian poll campaign history. The party has hired business jets like Cessna Citation XLS that cost Rs 2,80,000 per hour and Falcon 4000 that cost Rs 4,00,000 per hour. For its helicopter fleet, it has hired machines like Bell 412, Agusta 109, Agusta 139. These cost between Rs 1,80,000 and Rs 4,00,000 per hour.
BJP became the number one advertiser on television in the run-up to assembly elections in five states late last year, according to the latest Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) data. Imagine the data around the general elections.
As much as 26 billion rupees will be spent on advertising in the upcoming elections, according to Zenith India, a firm that arranges for slots on TV and in newspapers.
There was another report suggesting PM’s rally in Bengal this week cost around Rs. 32 crores. Can you imagine that? I am not blaming only the ruling party. I am sure the other parties are definitely following the suit but do you ever think from where this money is coming? I hope you don’t believe that all of this is white money.
An electoral bond is designed to be a bearer instrument like a Promissory Note — in effect, it will be similar to a banknote that is payable to the bearer on demand and free of interest. Any citizen of India or a body incorporated in India can purchase it.
According to audit reports and income tax reports submitted by parties to the Election Commission, the BJP has been the biggest beneficiary of electoral bonds, garnering 94.5% of the bonds.
Donors of amounts below Rs 20,000 are allowed to be kept hidden legally. The current government’s electoral bond scheme allows even large-scale anonymous donations.
In an RTI response to Pune-based Vihar Durve, SBI said in 2018 it had sold bonds worth Rs 1056.73 crore in March, April, May, July, October, and November. In January and March 2019 the bank sold Electoral Bonds worth Rs 1716.05 crore, the response said. The sale shows an increase of 62% from those sold during 2018.
The biggest national parties declared a combined income of just 13 billion rupees for the year through March 2018 and the irony lies in the fact that no one is ready to disclose the source.
While candidates have a legal expenditure cap, parties can spend unrestricted amounts. No party wants to come under RTI and each of them want us to believe that they are the torchbearers of the fight against corruption.
EVM – Electronic Voting Machine
Every party or candidate that loses raises doubts on the functioning of EVM but honestly; it can be debated at length on its credibility. They have become the best scapegoats of poor performance. Recently union cabinet cleared the purchase of an additional 16 lakh EVM VVPAT machines at the cost of Rs. 3173 crores.
I tried to gather data around the number of countries using or have used EVM in the past. The maximum number I could collect was – 31 countries around the world use or have used EVMs for political elections.
Only 4 of them have used for voting nationwide – India, Brazil, Bhutan and Venezuela. 11 of them used in some parts of the country. 5 have pilots ongoing. Surprisingly, 8 of them piloted and did not continue. 3 used for a number of elections and then discontinued – Germany, Netherlands, and Paraguay.
Even the largest economy and the most developed nation, USA, resist it from being implemented. A TIME report quotes the US Election Assistance Commission Chairman Tom Hicks saying that the “primary reasons” paper ballots are used in most states are “security and voter preference”.
Do you want to know what is even more comical – GVL Narsimha Rao wrote a book, “Democracy At Risk! Can We Trust Our Electronic Voting Machines?”
In fact, Advani even wrote the foreword for the book. “I personally regard it significant that Germany, technologically, one of the most advanced countries of the world, has become so wary of EVMs as to ban their use altogether. Many states in the USA have mandated that EVMs can be used only if they have a paper back up. So manufacturers of electronic voting machines in the USA have developed a technology referred to as Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT),” Advani wrote.
I don’t want to even questions the credibility of EC. Every sane literate person knows the truth. T N Seshan was the only guy who tried to clean up the elections but it didn’t take long for the political parties to clean him up. Barring him, every now and then, the nimble EC doesn’t shy away from bowing down.
Just sit in silence for a minute and think – Are we really asking the right questions – or just like everyone else being swayed away with jingoistic slogans.
For all those who want cheaper elections,
For all those who doubt EVMs,
For all those who want parties under RTI
For all those who want cleaner elections…
It’s not a goodbye,
But it’s a GOOD BYE.
If you have stopped thinking come back tomorrow.
Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul
This is the 5th post for the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z. My theme in Politics Category is ‘IPL – Indian Parliamentary League’, where I would be covering some relevant issues with the General Elections 2019 through the course of 26 posts.
Read the previous post here
Please do visit tomorrow for the next post with letter ‘F’
I am also taking part in the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z using another theme –‘Dubai – City of Gold‘. If you love travel head over to the Travel Theme and share your feedback.