Asserting that elections were becoming an expensive proposition, Maharashtra Governor C Vidyasagar Rao today cautioned that people would lose faith in democracy if the influence of money power in elections was not reduced. "Elections are the touchstone of a democracy... However elections are becoming an expensive proposition.
The Election Commission incurs a cost of roughly Rs 8,000 crore to conduct all state and federal elections in a span of five years, or roughly Rs 1,500 crore every year," Rao said. He inaugurated the first Governor's Conclave on the theme 'Democracy, Election and Good Governance' at the Sahyadri State Guest House. He said there was a need for collective thinking on this issue to bring down the cost of elections, adding that it was possible through political consensus across the spectrum. "Let me caution one thing. If we fail to reduce the influence of money power in elections, people will lose their faith in democracy," he said. Rao further said that given the deep penetration of mobile phones and internet connectivity in Maharashtra, the State Election Commission must take advantage and reach out to every youth through social media and involve them in voter registration campaigns and voter awareness programmes. "Indians were true practitioners of democracy until the British arrived in India. The colonial masters not just disrupted our social, economic and cultural institutions, they also disturbed our democratic institutions and our inclusive way of life," he said. "The 73rd and 74th Constitutional amendments will be counted amongst the most critical pieces of legislations that changed the course of India, making all three tiers of government equally important," he added. Rao said that many political scientists have rightly observed that the decentralization of public administration and the introduction of local elected bodies have produced systems of governance that are better able to meet the needs of the poor, the tribals and other vulnerable groups. Decentralisation had given citizens from the remotest of villages the power to hold their elected representative accountable for decisions affecting their life and livelihoods, he said.
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