Rs80 billion spent during polls, says Lok Satta chief

Rs80 billion spent during polls, says Lok Satta chief

The allegations come even as EC officials revealed that a total of Rs1.6b in unaccounted cash had been seized in the state during the run up to the elections.

By P S Jayaram

Published: Mon 12 May 2014, 12:12 AM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 5:51 PM

A whopping Rs80 billion was spent by various political parties in various forms to woo the voters in the just-concluded elections in Andhra Pradesh, Lok Satta president Dr N Jayaprakash Narayan has alleged.

Stating that candidates from various parties had spent millions in black money in cash and kind including supply of liquor, Dr Narayan, who is contesting from Malkajgiri Lok Sabha constituency in the city, said: “Money is no more an issue for the contestants. People have become power-hungry and are ready to splurge any amount to capture power.

The allegations come even as Election Commission (EC) officials revealed that a total of Rs1.6 billion in unaccounted cash had been seized in the state during the run up to the elections. The EC, sources said, had so far managed to link Rs500 million to various political parties based on circumstantial evidence.

The State’s Chief Electoral Officer Bhanwarlal said these cases will be referred to the fast track court to facilitate completion of criminal charges against those involved within a year. Dr Narayan, the lone legislator of his party in the outgoing assembly, meanwhile lamented the growing influence of money power in elections and said that AP had earned the dubious distinction of initiating the culture of buying votes with money and liquor.

Regretting that instead of focusing on basic issues like education, health, infrastructure and farmers’ plight, he said political leaders had focused their attention on distribution of inducements ranging from cash, liquor to saris and other gifts.

The bureaucrat-turned-politician said: “Unmindful of the grave fiscal deficit that the newly emerging residuary state of Andhra Pradesh is about to face, the main political parties have promised loan waiver, ignoring the future of the youth.

Similarly, political parties in Telangana too have promised loan waiver and other freebies. The fiscal surplus in Telangana will vanish into thin air if the irresponsible promises are implemented.”

Advocating direct election to the post of chief minister as part of wide-ranging electoral reforms, he said: “One might spend Rs100 million to Rs500 million to become an MLA or MP, but it is unlikely that anyone will spend Rs50 billion to get elected as chief minister,” he said.

Dr Narayan regretted that democracy had been made synonymous with corruption, illiteracy and unemployment.

“I appeal to all parties across the country to work for replacement of the present first-past-the-post electoral system by proportional representation to protect democracy from collapsing.”

“Under the present dispensation, the competent cannot get elected and those elected with money and liquor can’t deliver,” he said, adding that political parties in Telangana had promised loan waiver and other temporary sops but failed to give a comprehensive plan on how they proposed to provide basic amenities in Hyderabad with Rs130 billion annual income, generate employment and tackle the power crisis.

The case of Seemandhra is even worse with an estimated deficit of Rs120 billion, he said, adding it may slip into even deeper crisis.

“Politics is not for deciding who would become chief minister or prime minister but to determine the future of society. If basic changes are not brought in with urgency, youth would face bleak future as 10.5 million youth are looking for jobs every year,” he said.

The former IAS officer quit the government job in 1998 to launch Lok Satta, a national movement for democratic reforms, and later converted it into a political party in 2006.

He had served as a member of the National Advisory Council (NAC) for implementation of the National Common Minimum Programme (CMP) from July 2004 to August 2006. He was also a member of the Second Administrative Reforms Commission constituted by the UPA government in September 2005.

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