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Mainstream, VOL L No 48, November 17, 2012

The Paradox of Leadership

Wednesday 21 November 2012

by Tarun Patnaik

After the exposure of the power muscle of Mukesh Ambani over the functioning of the Congress, a few fundamental questions come to mind. It is clear that political parties need money to survive in the field of power politics because money plays a big role on which they can come to power.

Our electorate are quite amenable to short-term gains and short-term loyalty. Other than direct purchase of votes, there is the indirect effect of buying the power-brokers. Next comes the cost of campaign. So for all this the party needs money. And the businessman acts as the middleman—by getting concessions from the government he makes money; then from his gains, a big portion goes to the party’s fund.

Money is made either by a businessman or a corrupted government official or a corrupted leader. All our money is with these three groups of people.If you don’t have money to become a leader, you have to have somebody’s patronage who has got access to money. Strange… to become a leader you need to have money, once you are a leader, to retain your position, you need to be corrupted. So always you need money………….the life-goal of most people. I think if we generalise that people have only one supreme tendency, and that is to make money directly or through subversive ways.

How do we counter this vicious circle? Can we make election a cheap affair? Can we remove the money factor from the election process? Yes, it is possible. First, let the cost of an election be borne by the government. Nobody can spend anything from the party fund. The media will be extensively hired by the government for public debate among contestants so that people can make up their mind about which candidate is worthy. Public debate among contestants is not new
to the world, but election without expenditure is new to our world. This is the only way to get some good people elected to Parliament.

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