Monday, March 30, 2009

Politics - Nuts and Bolts

Find some questions and answers on Shantanu's blog :

BiPartisan Electoral Reform Organisations

  • Jago Re
  • No Criminals Campaign

Election Funding

The official spending limit for a lok sabha candidate is Rs 25 lakhs, and for constituency candidate is Rs 15 lakhs. However, in practice, much more may be spent : Rs 10-15 Crores for Loksabha candidate and Rs 2-6 Crores for an Assembly candidate (according to Hindu Article : see below). This amount may be doubling every 5 years.

The biggest head (65-75%) in the expenditure seems to be 'buying voters', including liquor expenses. Other "major heads of poll spending are: engaging at least 2,000 active men for campaigning, poll management and counting; hiring or purchasing, and maintaining, vehicles; organising publicity material; opening village-level offices; preparing and distributing voter slips; fetching electors to polling stations; getting star speakers and picking up the tab for their travel, lodging and boarding; and other miscellaneous expenditure"

Hindu : Unofficial cost of fighting elections

Donations to political parties are exempt of Income Tax. There are several dummy political parties which do not engage politically but use the party status for tax savings. Election Commission cannot derecognise political parties, though they requested that this power be given to them. As a result, there may be 100s of disfunctional registered political parties in India today.

Many politicians are very rich, with assets work many crores !

About the first General Election, 1952

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Get your facts right if you aspire to be a politician

What do you need to have if you wish to contest elections through an existing political party ?

The video shows congress' recruitment drive in Gujarat.

It will be interesting to figure out what these recruits will actually do once they join. How are they different from regular party 'workers' ? What aspirations and motivations do those who are applying have ?

Students at Anna Uni, inspired by ex-President Kalam :

I do not agree though that politicians are not accessible, as these students claim. This is a wrong perception I feel. Have you tried calling up or speaking to your local MPs/MLAs/politicians ? I did, and it was actually fairly easy to meet them. And most politicians are extremely good with people, so they leave you with a warm feeling. I also found their office to be like an 'open darbaar' (same as offices of some civil servants whom I visited). There were 100s of people who came to meet everyday.
One thing which may be different compared to business meetings though is that there may be no strict appointments. You may get a general time-slot and may have to wait for a couple of hours (in the open darbaar) to get your real meeting going. But it is easy to pass time as you can see other meetings happening right in front of you and in fact may also pitch in if you like. And so, be prepared for an open transparent meeting with other visitors sitting close by in the same room when your own real meeting begins !

Youth in Hyderabad :
Elite Politics, South Mumbai :


If I were PM / BBC :

Saturday, March 21, 2009

New (Ethical ?) Political Parties

There are more than 15 'new' (ethical) political parties, who may be fielding candidates in the Lok Sabha elections. Please find a list below.

From what I know, Loksatta is one of the most impressive among them, with a grassroots movement backing it. However, it is not clear whether it will win any seats this time. It does not figure as a major factor in AP, even though Praja Rajyam does.

Bharat Uday Mission
Bharat Punarnirman Dal
Professionals Party of India
Lok Paritran
Right to Recall Party (Rahul Chimanbhai Mehta)

Bhartiya Democratic Party
Jago Party
New Republican Party of India
Youth for Equality (checkout this about Loksabha 2009)
Swatantra Bharat Party
Yuva Party (Rahul Pandit, Hyderabad)
Humanist Party
India Awakening Society
Bhartiya Rashtravadi Samanata Party (BRSP) (Ref:

A working list is available at :

Also checkout Shantanu's Blog :

Criminal Candidates

On Shantanu's blog

From :

We looked at which parties accounted for how many of the 96 MPs whom we could categorise based on the maximum possible sentence. It turned out that the BJP headed the list with 23 followed by the Congress with 17. It is true that the RJD’s seven, the SP’s nine and the BSP’s five constitute a much larger proportion of those parties’ MPs, but what is clear is that these smaller parties have no monopoly on MPs with criminal charges pending against them. What should be more worrying is the fact that all the parties that fielded candidates with criminal charges against them won 494 of the 543 seats in the April-May 2004 elections."

BSP is perhaps the most criminalised, then BJP, then Congress ? Are there better options ? Any pointers or insights will be very useful !

But BJP says it is a clean party ??
Criminal BJP Candidate -

This news brief mentions some other criminal candidates, including from BJP and 'Apna Dal'
It mentions that there are more than 70 contestants with criminal records contesting elections.

What is wrong with identity politics ?

Some news videos

All political parties are opportunistic and exploit caste or religion to some extent. At national scale, BJP looks most communal (but their communal intensity varies depending on forums they are speaking in. eg. read this). At regional scale there are many other parties which play identity politics eg. BSP :: Low caste votes.

What is wrong with identity politics ? For example, even 'Professionals Party of India' is appealing to the identity of 'professionals'.
Answer : What is wrong with identity politics is that it trumps debates on values, and policies. Voting for someone because s/he is a professional or muslim or hindu or low-caste, at the cost of another who may be advocating better policies and may be upholding better personal values, is what is wrong about identity politics. It divides us into class or blood based identities, rather than uniting us as a nation of equals, on the agenda of progress and development.