Fighting elections cost money. More often than not, its dirty money. The entry barrier for a common man with common means to opt for public service is very high. It is almost an impossibility.
Our National defense expense allocation for 2017–18 is 3,59,854 crores. Which works out to be approximately 2,700 Rupees per capita if we were to divided the expense equally among 130 crore Indian citizens.
If we are spending 2,700/- per head for defense, should we not be spending a fraction to ensure clean elections, to select clean candidates. I strongly believe that state funding of elections, party / candidate expense will reduce corruption massively and enable many honest and committed people to enter public service. How do we enable this ?
Lets assume per head expense of 100 Rs (As compared to 2,700/- Rs. of per capita defense expense). All that a citizen needs to do is to go to the election commission website or nearest government contact center and choose using his/her credentials (Aadhaar/ Voter-Id) to whom this 100/- will be disbursed. A citizen can choose to give the entire amount to one political party or have it split in percent ratios to multiple political parties. This choice can be made once annually and the chosen amount disbursed to chosen from taxpayers money. This scheme can also be extended to registered Independent candidates who signup for public service and garner some stipulated number of citizen endorsements.
At 100/- Rs per head, the total candidate & election funding corpus works out to be 13,000 crores, which is quite sufficient considering the top two national political parties received much less than 1000 crore’s each (see fig. above) from donations last year. Imagine candidates and political parties being able to fight elections and win without any strings attached funding from corrupt lobbies. This way, the taxpayer foots the bill to ensure the candidates elected owe their careers to no one but the taxpayer.
Of course like all government schemes, this too can be subject to misuse, but I am sure those can be controlled with adequate checks and balances.
Besides ensuring clean funding, there are other amazing benefits that this scheme can ensure. It can incentivize political entities to be mindful of commitments to people on a year-on-year basis instead of the current 5 year cadence. Both ruling party and opposition’s ability to garner annual funding with people’s mandate will now depend on public perception and ground work seen by voters on a yearly basis and the amount of funding secured each year will be am important indicator of their performance.