How Corporate Funding Of Political Parties Influences Elections And The Democratic Process

Posted on April 17, 2014 in Politics

By Mayank Jain:

If you have been on Twitter lately then you are definitely acquainted with the political mayhem unfolding every minute. The role of big money and a political party’s might determines the direction in which the wind blows. It is rather unfortunate to see elections becoming a spending extravaganza with little or no hope of giving a level playing field to every candidate.

The latest in the fray is BJP’s automatic bot. Once you mention the word ‘Modi’ in your tweet, it will reply within seconds with a message that asks you to be not complacent anymore and reminds you that ‘Modi needs every single vote’. The result is the same even if you are not referring to Narendra Modi, the PM candidate from the party.

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The costs involved in such professionally doctored PR campaign that leaves no stone unturned to promote (read: spam) one person as the knight who can save the country are undoubtedly humongous. Hence, arises the question of the funding sources which have always been in question and even then in the dark. Nobody knows who is funding these campaigns and that’s exactly how big money is dangerous for democracy.

Democracy is a representative, participatory process of ruling over a region where the Constitution and law is above all, but undue influence of a few powerful players and their nexus with corporates either crushes the smaller candidates with fewer funding sources or drives them away from the political process.

Why is it so that only Arvind Kejriwal was able to stand up and that too on the back of the hugely popular Jan Lokpal Movement? Why are able youngsters who can and want to stand and contest elections choose to run away from the country instead? Why don’t we have strong oppositions to unstable governments? There is one possible answer to all this: Money!

Elections are the opportunity for parties to spend money on PR campaigns and crumbling their opponents to pieces. The common strategy is either to drown the voice of opposition candidates in their own pomp and show or to defame them and maintain positivity by pumping money in social media promotion that dilutes the ratio of criticism to self-praise.

What follows is more money extraction from wide spread corruption and favors from lobbying for their corporate partners who are more than happy to pay back the money in campaigns after arm twisting the government and subsequently, the whole country to their wishes.

There is clearly a need for the political parties to finally come under the radar and undergo public scrutiny. The electorate they feel free to exploit with their money and connections should also have the opportunity to have a thorough look at their balance sheet and make an informed choice.

Cases like BJP’s bot are not isolated since Congress has been equally guilty of pumping Rahul Gandhi’s campaign with big money which makes him trend on Twitter every other day.

This social engineering which reduces the players in the field and weakens those who still keep standing should stop at the earliest if we want to term ourselves a democracy. Oligarchy is rule by a few and if we ignore AAP’s recent rise and influence, then a Congress-BJP contest on every seat and backed by corporates’ ill obtained money does not bode well for anyone except the parties involved.

Is it already too late to stop it? Can we still talk about it? Will we be allowed to talk about the government and criticize it after the elections? Only time will tell.

Watch this short clip from our recent Google Hangout on elections discussing the same:

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