The Times of India

BANGALORE: Real estate has a major say in the distribution of tickets for candidates cutting across party lines, Trilochan Sastry, professor, Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore said here on Tuesday.

"Around 90% of the ticket distribution was controlled by the real estate in the last Lok Sabhapolls. And the trend might continue in the upcoming polls too,'' said Sastry, who is also the founder chairman of the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR). He was delivering a talk on 'Making elections and politics voter friendly' at the Bangalore International Centre here.

Calling for enactment of a bill to regulate the functioning of political parties, he said the lack of transparency on political financing within political parties and absence of inner-party democracy poses serious problems for Indian democracy. This, he said, should be urgently addressed by regulating the political parties and making them financially accountable and enforcing a structure for inner-party democracy.

Another major problem that needs urgent redressal is the buying of votes during elections. The election commission, civil society and media have played a vital role in asking voters to go out and vote. But it's time to move forward.

"An aggressive awareness campaign coupled with serious self-introspection among voters themselves can go a long way in making voters to go out and cast their vote to the right candidate without accepting any money offered by candidates,'' Sastry added.

He said some of the electoral reforms introduced by the election commission starting with the model code of conduct, successfully curbed election-related violence and booth capturing. Tracking the flow of money and liquor to the extent possible during elections, putting in place systems for monitoring election expenses within the existing laws and other such measures have improved things considerably.

However, the vexed question of misuse of money during elections has not been fully addressed. "The system of election observers needs to be strengthened or re-looked at. When even election commission officials have publicly said that black money is freely used in elections, and have appointed special expenditure observers, it is surprising that not one election in the Lok Sabha has been set aside on these grounds," he added.


* In the current Lok Sabha, 162 (30%) of the 543 MPs have declared criminal cases against themselves.

* A total of 76 or 14% of the current Lok Sabha MPs have declared serious criminal cases against themselves.

* In previous 2009 Lok Sabha elections, 392 registered political parties contested 543 seats. In 1950 there were only 54 parties.

* The average assets of 62,847 candidates between 2004 and 2013 were Rs.1.37 crore and of winners, Rs.3.8 crore.

* The average assets of those with some crime record were higher at Rs 4.27 crore, and of those with serious crime records still higher at Rs 4.38 crore.

Source: Trilochan Sastry, professor, Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore and founder-chairman of the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR).

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