Why Mayawati’s assets are not a problem for the Indian government
Mayawati. A prime example of how a political candidate’s past means nothing when it comes to winning elections. She recently became the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh when her party swept the polls. So whats with her past?
Well, 51 year old Mayawati has once been charged in a disproportionate assets case (Her assets are in the range of Rs 52 crores or 12.9 million USD) as well as the Taj Corridor case (she had apparently given her sanction to commercially develop the land around the Taj Mahal) …but all this didn’t affect her political career.
What mattered was that she was charismatic, cleverly played the caste card and at the same time managed to woo the upper castes. In any case, she did her job better than Mulayam Singh Yadav, whose record is not that clean either. He too has had charges of disproportionate assets filed against him. And both their parties have people with criminal cases filed against them..
Once Mayawati came to power, she managed to get the case against her in the Taj Corrider scam dropped. Apparently, the Governer discovered that the evidence against her wasn’t strong enough. And Mayawati might be able to get away with the charges against her in the disporportionate assets case as well as apparently a large number of her assets are in the name of her relatives!
Whats scary is Mayawati has ambitions of becoming the Prime Minister! After she won the UP elections she had said:
My aspiration to rise in life has brought me here today. I must confess I do look forward to occupying the highest chair in the country, one day…
So let me get back to my original question: Why are Mayawati’s assets not a problem for the Indian government?
Well, not just because the majority of politicians are corrupt. But also because our government needs politicians to raise money for the party. The need for political funding is in fact the root cause of corruption. Politicians routinely exhort money from various organisations and some keep a meaty slice for themselves. I am not really saying anything new…its that we need to remind ourselves of this once in a while and blame the system, not just individuals. The temptation for individuals in our corrupt political system are many…
In Japan for example it is mandatory to disclose all campaign funding and there are very strict penalties for violators, including being barred from running for public office for very long periods of time. Larger allowances were also given by the government to candidates and there is generous public funding, depending on the votes collected. In any case, the Japanese are pretty frugal when it comes to campaign expenses.
In the United States, the candidate must disclose the source of all contributions, alongwith names and occupations of all those who donate more than $200 in an election cycle. Limited public funding is available to candidates from the two major parties.
In the UK, political parties have to reveal any donation of above £5,000. These rules include a ban on foreign donations and a cap on party spending.
Oh yes, we too have our laws! All funding beyond Rs 10,000/- has to be disclosed and accounts have to be audited. There is also a ceiling on spending…but the funny thing is – no one is prosecuted for violations! Thats typical of our system. Almost all our laws are paper tigers. And even if anyone is prosecuted, what are the chances of him or she being convicted? All they need to is blackmail the government…tell them that we did this for you…we’ve given you illegal money, money thats not been disclosed!
Our political campaigns are lavish and no one keeps to the ceiling on spending. Thats because excessive spending works. Besides the usual hoopla and advertising, bribes and hand-outs are routine just before the elections, even though this is against the law. Why voters sell their votes for a bowl of chicken soup! We are a poor country and the politicians use that to the hilt. Simple uneducated folk find it harder to see behind the glitter.
Its glitter and show that wins elections. The more money you collect, the more publicity you get, the more you spread around, the more you can use to bribe and cajole… and the greater the chances of your party winning! And whether the individual keeps a part of the money for himself or herself or gives everything to his party…(apparently politicians like our ex-PM A. B. Vajpayee are untainted in this regard) depends entirely on the integrity of the politician.
The others know that they will never be punished…look at Laloo. He’s had several charges against him…but he is a Union Minister!
Its time we had strict punishments for those who violate election norms…and the PM has promised more transparency in political funding…but sir, we are still waiting.
Related Reading: Buying votes from the poor