New Delhi

The Delhi-based activist group Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) has released some startling data about donations received by political parties from the corporates and business houses. The facts given by them, if true, cannot but raise serious doubts about the future of democracy and its essence, people’s rule, in this country. The ADR has found that last year (2013-14), ninety per cent of donations to major political parties came from big corporates or business houses. Also, that total donations received by the Congress, NCP and CPI during the year rose by a whopping 517 per cent from the previous year. The Congress alone accounted for 408 per cent of the total.

The second startling revelation is that the BJP which is now the ruling party at the Centre is the only party which has not submitted to the Election Commission the details of the donations it received – something that it is statutorily required to do. In the previous year, 2012-13, the BJP’s declared donations paid in sums above Rs. 20,000 amounted to Rs.83.19 crore.

During the Lok Sabha polls in May, the people saw the systematic and organized way major TV channels had carried on propaganda for the BJP. All the parties opposing the BJP were targeted, their leaders ridiculed and lampooned and their bona fides challenged. As the reach of the electronic media has now extended to the remotest village, its capacity to influence public opinion is immense. Independent research workers have asserted that the media played a major role in Narendra Modi and BJP’s sweeping victory. The big media channels do the bidding of the corporate houses that own and control them.

Now it appears that the corporates are also extending their control on the big political parties by funding them heavily. The unstated quid pro quo is, of course, that if returned to power the party would adopt and implement policies that benefit its benefactors. Poll campaigns have become prohibitively costly. With every election the cost increases. Not to speak of individuals, even political parties find it difficult to raise the money. Willy-nilly, they have to turn to the industrial houses and big business to contribute to their election coffers. The ceiling on expenditure prescribed by the Election Commission for an Assembly or a Lok Sabha seat is exceeded many times. The poll body knows it but is helpless to prevent it. It is a gigantic fraud that is going on. If the trend cannot be prevented and reversed, democracy in India will soon be defunct. It is corporatocracy which will rule the country.

Thursday, 1 January, 2015
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