Bengal Scam | Is the electoral democracy root cause of corruption?

Rs. 50 Crore and 5 kg. gold recovered from Bengal's TMC minister's close aide's house. The minister is allegedly involved in the State School Service Commission (SSC) recruitment scam. National and local news channels are receiving huge viewership. Do you think anything is going to happen to TMC big honchos? Remember the Sarada Chit Fund scam in 2014 and Naroda scam later in Bengal? Sarada scam was worth over Rs. 10,000 Crore. Did anything happen? The ministers who were in jail at that time are again back as the prime faces of the party. Even now many hundreds of crores must have been already converted to untraceable other asset classes.

Watching such news is like watching web series and TV serials. It is a mere form entertainment for us and big money for the TV channels. Then we all forget. We fail to ask the key question. Why it happens? Not just in Bengal. Scams are happening all over India. Only few are unearthed and then covered back due to political compulsions. Most are never unearthed. We don't even see the tip of the iceberg on TV channels and newspapers. Do you think the TMC minister this time or the ministers involved in the Sarada Scam pocketed the money themselves? Let's not fool ourselves. Money collected as part of any scam go to many hands and especially to the party fund.


India spent Rs. 60,000 crores in 2019 to run the Lok Sabha election...and that is just the official amount

Each candidate is allowed to spend Rs. 95 lakhs for campaigning. Again, that is just an official number

USA spent 14.4 billion USD (1,10,000 crores INR) during the 2020 presidential election

Any political party in this multi-party democracy needs money...huge amounts of money. Starting from day-to-day cost of running a party, election campaign to horse trading of MPs/MLAs, employing gundas/thugs - all require lots of money. It is the cost of electoral democracy and somebody has to pay for it. It is partly paid by the big capital holders like industrialists and also paid by running corruption racket like the Sarada Scam. That is why we either see politics-capital nexus where the political class just becomes the puppet of the big corporate houses or we see such corruption starting at the very grassroot level as all such 'dirty' money finally feeds the political system.

We need to change this and the first step to change anything is to accept that we have a problem. If we continue to have fake pride in this 'electoral' democracy, we will never be able to fix it and continue to be manipulated in the hands of political leaders. What is the meaning of democracy? A system where supreme power is vested in the people. A system where the political class is accountable to the people. A system where the political class is evaluated by the people and either get rewarded or punished as part of periodic appraisals. Do you think we have such democracy in India, or as a matter of fact anywhere in the world? A country like India where votes are either bought or coerced can be called anything but a democracy.

What do we actually do in the name of democracy? We vote. That's it. Do we have any other leverage over the political leaders? None. Remember we only 'elect', we do not 'evaluate'. In 2011, the people of Bengal chose Mamata's TMC in place of CPI(M). People may get frustrated with TMC and they may choose BJP in future. After few years, people will get disillusioned with BJP and bring back either CPI(M) or TMC. It is the same set of leaders who will occupy the position of power every few years. Even worse, when CPI(M) lost power, many party members, lower level gundas/thugs and leaders jumped the ship and joined TMC. The same people abandoned TMC to join BJP when they saw BJP's rise in the state. Many shameless ones even came back to TMC right after BJP's loss in the election last year. So, what good are we doing electing these people? Voting seasons have become more like a festival than anything useful.


We think we have chosen our preferred leader. Have we? Remember that a set of candidates are already pre-selected by the parties and in turn by their capitalist masters. We just do selection among those pre-selected ones. In most of the cases, capitalists fund both (or more) the combating sides with more fund going to the party that has more chance of winning. Whoever wins in the process, it is their candidate who wins. So dear readers, please come out of the illusion that you chose your leader.

What should we do then? We must demand a system that works for us, not for a few elites. We must evaluate, not elect. Election of the leaders should be done through a process. Just like IAS/IPS selection, grooming and promotion process, we should have a similar system with strict criteria to elect and train the public representatives in the parliament. Anybody with the right qualification and experience can aspire and participate in it. No one should need to spend 95 lakhs of rupees just to do canvasing of his or her candidacy. Remember that 95 lakhs is just an official limit and we all know what happens in reality. It is the biggest barrier for an honest candidate to even run in the election. Corruption starts right there.


We, the common people, just need to evaluate the representatives in the local constituency, state assembly and in the central parliament. We should evaluate how the local councilor performed in the last one year under a set of parameters like improving educational institutes, local law and order, sanitation system etc. Similarly, we should evaluate how the representatives at the state and central level are performing under a completely different set of parameters like handling of inflation, industrialization of the state, handling of national defense etc. If a representative fails to score the required marks for 3 consecutive years, he or she should be demoted and transferred to another constituency. If he or she cannot perform there in next 3 years, the person should be removed from the public service system altogether. That way we will have accountability, not just mere voting. If someone performs well, the person should be promoted to the regional level and then to the state and central level. This way we will have qualified candidates going up in the ladder and finally there would be the handful aspirants competing to become the Prime Minister of the country. This way we can ensure a Grade 12 pass candidate can never become a HRD minister or as a matter of fact any minister of our country. This way we can ensure that no half-educated gundas with/without criminal background can even come close to the parliament house.

43% of Lok Sabha MPs have criminal records

The BJP has 116 MPs or 39% of its winning candidates with criminal cases

Congress has 29 MPs or 57% of its winning candidates with criminal cases

In 2019, there was an increase of 109% in the number of MPs with declared serious criminal cases since 2009

As I said before, we have to first accept that we have a problem, a very serious problem. Under the present system, political leaders have absolutely no incentive to work for the interest of the people. Our political leaders are busy 365 days of the year to ensure they win the next election and their parties remain in the power. That is why we are still a country with per capita income of a mere $2,000 even after 75 years of independence. We are still a country where elections are fought in the name of religion and caste. Think of Amethi. A constituency from where Congress, specifically Nehru-Gandhi dynastic supremos of Congress, won almost all the elections since independence except the last assembly election. Forget about India. If Gandhis/Congress had an iota of right intention, at least Amethi should have become Singapore of India. Everyone there should have got high quality education and a good amount of skill to prosper in life. It should have been an industrialized modern city long time back. But, no. It is still there where it was before with minimal improvements to satisfy the mass just enough so that they continue to vote for them. In India, elections are bought by doling out free rice or a box of biriyani or 500 rupees per month or a colored television. Politicians have no incentive to educate and train the mass. Because then people will demand more than free rice. They will refuse to serve as their low maintenance minions.


Remember when you challenge this so-called 'electoral' democracy, people who are the direct victim of the system will first attack you by saying that you are promoting dictatorship, authoritarian government. No, I am not. There is a whole universe between the current form of democracy and dictatorship. What I am proposing is anything but dictatorship. Here leaders will be selected, groomed and promoted through a stringent system. They will have a fixed tenure. They will go through a regular evaluation process and will be sacked if they cannot perform. The system will ensure that a person who was dancing/acting in front of a camera or hitting a round ball with a wooden bat till yesterday can never become a parliamentarian tomorrow just because of their so-called 'celebrity' status.

This was my analysis of the current political rot and some remedies to the current problems. It might not be perfect. Someone may have an even better idea. But at least let us not be in a fool's paradise and take pride in getting our index finger inked almost every other year. Let's talk about it. Let's find a better solution. Let's rally. Let's force the parliament to bring the change. Because if we don't then we have absolutely no right to criticize the TMC minister or any other political scamster. We should then continue watching the news channels as a source of entertainment just like any other mindless TV soap.

Some of you might be thinking how a similar system works in 'developed' countries like Europe or America, the great daddies of the democracy proponent. I will talk about it some other day. Let's focus on India first.

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