11th December 2016
Now that I understand what Modi has been saying re: state funding of elections, he is not saying much, really.
All he wants is a debate.
But what is HIS proposal?
Let me say this in brief:
b) State funding must be simple and clean: each valid vote must return Rs.20 (or so) to the candidate (not political party). Period. That’s we need. And how hard is that for people to understand?
I have detailed this at length in BFN and also in SBP’s manifesto.
JUST READ THESE, AND DO IT THE RIGHT WAY. NOTE THAT IT WON’T BE ENOUGH TO IMPLEMENT STATE FUNDING, EVEN IF DONE THE RIGHT WAY. THE FULLY SUITE OF REFORMS IS NEEDED.
Let me reproduce the section regarding electoral reforms:
While Equality (socialism) and corruption are lifelong buddies and room-mates, Freedom (capitalism) and corruption are arch enemies. A free India can’t condone even the tiniest bit of corruption. We must become the least corrupt country in the world if we want to be called free. The following four actions will help to eliminate political corruption and also dramatically improve India’s governance:
- Raise the wages of MPs and MLAs at least by a factor of ten while simultaneously getting rid of all of their ‘perks’. Let us pay the Prime Minister of this great nation at least what a middle level business executive of a very large multi-national firm gets, say Rs. 1 crore per year, and MPs Rs.20-30 lakhs each. As it is unpopular for politicians to raise their own salaries, we can help them by setting up an independent commission that would determine their wages. There is also atendency among politicians to add to their perks if their wages are kept low by public pressure – this is a significant problem for India. In India some MPs also allegedly sell some of their perks, such as their free air tickets. That is surely criminal. Perks are also expensive to administer. Let us therefore get rid of all perks once salaries are raised, and only reimburse actual expenses incurred on the job, for instance, eligible travel expenses. Let openness and transparency on such basic matters prevail in India; a free society can’t expect anything less than that.
- We must fund our elections differently – through state funding. The purpose of the wages of MPs or MLAs is not to cover the expenses incurred during elections, but to pay them competitively for their responsibilities. Even if wages are hiked, we will still need to find a way to make the electoral expenses manageable. We can do so by state funding of elections. A simple and effective method that will pay Rs 25 or thereabouts, at current values, for each valid vote cast in favour of a candidate is outlined in Box 3. A system similar to this operates successfully in Australia, where about $2.10 (about Rs 66) is paid at present by the government for each valid vote polled by a candidate.[i]
- Third, we need to abolish election expense limits while simultaneously building extremely strong audit systems for monitoring the contributions received and expenditures made during elections.
- Finally, a wider set of reforms of the electoral system will be needed, such as making public the property returns of our candidatesin the interest of greater transparency. These and other such reforms are touched upon in Chapter 6.