ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Marriage of Money and Politics

Money and politics are finding newer and newer ways to benefit from each other

Money and politics have never been separate in India’s democracy. Business has traditionally tried to influence policy formulation and executive decisions by lobbying members of the legislature in various ways. Contractors of various kinds have bankrolled elections. And political parties of all hues, save the communist parties, have had few qualms in espousing the interests of one or the other business group. With each passing year, there is a growing cynical acceptance of the open sway money now holds over the functioning of electoral democracy in India.

It was promised that the abolition of licensing and the deregulation of the economy would remove the scope for an entwining of business and politics. Far from it. The impregnation of business in politics has deepened and is now qualitatively different from before. Two things have changed. First, deregulation has meant that while micro-rules are no longer important, the terms of the larger policy become all the more so. Hence the need to twist policy to suit one’s interests (the tussles over the telecom licensing, gas pricing policy and the creating of special economic zones are good examples). Second, oligarchs and entrepreneurs, far from working in the background, are now active participants in politics. Of course, the usual explanation is that resources are needed to fight elections in ever growing amounts and hence the growing influence of money in politics. What is not acknowledged is that more and more money is flowing into contesting elections because once elected there is even more money available for the making. What is being witnessed of late, especially in the states, is the dominance of rich sectional interests in politics, so much so that traditional polity or the “political class” lacks autonomy from and is very much subordinate to such interests.

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