Campaign funds in Indian politics

It costs about 50 lakhs (5 million rupees) to do an election campaign for a post of Member of Parliament (MP). Today’s elections are not like the Roman council election where the elected kills the loser, yet in a way, even today the winner does take all. Considering the per capita income is 20,000/- for an Indian, this half a million is no small fund especially when you consider the number of candidates a political party has to field and the frequency of elections.

How many of us know about legal ways of contributing to their political parties? How many of us have actually used this mode? Have you ever seen a candidate doing a fund raising campaign? We all talk about how expensive an MP is, but is there is any state support which helps him raise this kind of money.

Lets us not be ostriches by thinking that there is a magical way of raising this fund. An elected representative or a minister needs to generate funds not only for his own needs, but also for his party. Let us do him a favor by not forcing him into a moral dilemma to get reelected.
Corruption is like smoking, either you smoke or you don’t. And once you have started smoking it is futile to put in the restriction that I will only smoke 1 cigarette a day and not two.

I believe in the 10-80-10 rule. Where 10 % of the people are corrupt no matter what, 10% are honest no matter how tough the circumstances are. While the rest 80%, the lot that matters the most are pragmatic and adapt to the situation. The efficiency of a system lies in its ability to keep this lot honest. The only way is to keep them honest and encourage honest people to enter politics is to design means by which these funds are raised. A person in debt will only think about money and not concentrate on the primary task of welfare.

A simple, but expensive way would be state support to all candidates who collect at least 10% of the popular votes. Another tough but less expensive way would be to monitor the party funds. If money of the tune of millions flows in and out daily, it makes sense for these parties to maintain accounts and get the scrutinized regularly.

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