Sunday, June 26, 2022

Where Do Public Funds Go?

By The Editorial Team Updated: Dec 18, 2018 11:23 pm

It was raining money during the 13th Nagaland Legislative Assembly (NLA) elections held earlier this year with the total expenditure of the 196 candidates in the fray crossing INR 1,061 crore against INR 937 crore spent in 2013, which is a 13 percent increase, according to a report presented by the YouthNet. The post-election watch report stated that the Naga People’s Front (NPF), which fielded 58 candidates, spent more than INR 373 crore during this year’s elections while NDPP (40) spent about INR 267 crore and BJP (20) over INR 191 crore. The study claimed that candidates irrespective of the political party they belong to spent money lavishly — INR 5.41 crore on an average with some spending as low as INR 45,000 and some as high as INR 30 crore. This is in stark contrast to the expenditure published on Nagaland Chief Electoral Officer’s (CEO) website as claimed in the candidate’s affidavits that puts the average spending by each contestant at well below INR 10 lakh. But there is no confusion here as it is obvious that one has to be filthy rich to contest election to the NLA. Candidates might have drastically reduced the expenditure on the papers just not to flout Rule 90 of the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961 that puts the ceiling on spending in the state assembly elections at INR 20 lakh.

Unlike in Mizoram where candidates requested the chief election commissioner to reduce the poll expenditure cap in the state to INR 8 lakh, politicians in Nagaland are heavily dependent on money power to win elections with some even going to the extent of buying votes. It is a worrying trend as it is the source of all sorts of illnesses like bad roads, poor infrastructure, and backdoor appointment that the public will face after the polling. Almost all the politicians will try to recover the money they had spent during the elections after getting elected. But as the salary and other legitimate allowances they get as representatives of the people are just peanuts compared to crores of rupees they had spent, the only means to fill the gap is by siphoning off funds meant for public developmental projects and schemes, including those that should go to the poorest of the poor. No wonder the roads in the state are in deplorable condition; government schemes being misappropriated; and dozens of projects either incomplete or non-existent. If we want to get back our voice and the moral courage to fight corruption, we should discourage use of money power by the politicians during election and not sell our votes for any amount. If we cannot set this basic thing right, maybe we deserve to be in the position we are currently in.

By The Editorial Team Updated: Dec 18, 2018 11:23:54 pm