Divergent political cultures

The elections in India have been announced! From April 16th onwards, the country will vote in what will be a contest between two parties, the Congress and the BJP, neither of which have enough support to take power without partners from among the regional parties. According to a study by the Center for Media Studies, the parties will spend approximately $2 billion in the next few weeks, more than the $1.8 billion that was spent in the US over the course of a year on the recent elections. They estimate that a quarter of that money will be given directly to voters in exchange for their votes. In the US, political parties haggle over how districts are drawn, but here the BJP is haggling over the dates of a cricket match! Apparently, the party does not want the Indian Premier League cricket matches to happen on or around polling days, because their middle class base might be wooed away from voting. According to one BJP Rajya Sabha MP: “Election is the biggest festival of the masses in a democracy. If there is any other event that threatens to spoil this party, at least an attempt should be made to prevent it.”

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3 comments
  1. Arvind said:

    My uncle had a different take on the IPL-Election clash. He says “Since most of the people will be focused only on IPL, whatever the politicians promise or do will be totally ignored. We will finally have fair and free elections where the votes cast are not a function of the campaign process!”

  2. Binit Rath said:

    hey….I m not sure about the accuracy of $ 2 billion spending. But if it’s true then it’s only good for the Indian economy, it would act as stimulus to the economy, may be it’s our under ground stimulus package that will ease the liquidity crunch to same extent.

    So sometimes black money help some good cause 🙂

  3. nraman said:

    Arvind — That’s the first time I’ve heard that ignoring politicians is the only way to guarantee free and fair elections.

    Binit — Your point is well taken. You could also see it as a massive transfer program in which money taken in the form of bribes to the government is returned to the people as bribes for their votes. Some sort of nation-wide correction program.

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