Country that thrives on freebies remains free from progress

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The Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) conducted a nationwide survey involving 2.7 lakh people about their views and wishes on the upcoming elections. This is not the first time that ADR has commissioned such a survey on a national level. In fact, this is the third edition of the survey where a total of 2,73,487 people from 534 different Lok Sabha constituencies participated. According to the survey poll, 97.86 % of the respondents believed that a person with a criminal background should not be given a ticket to contest the election. 35.89 % of the people were ready to vote for the candidate with such background provided he had done good work in the past.

The respondents of the survey indicated better employment opportunities and healthcare facilities remain the leaders of the list of their priority. The performance of the government on 31 listed issues in the survey was rated as below average. The government failed to cross the mark of three (on a scale of one to five) in any of these issues.

“All throughout the survey…better employment opportunities and better healthcare remain amongst the topmost voters’ priorities. Also, these two voters’ priorities have continued to remain at the top at all India level since 2017,” stated the report.

The data of the survey reveals that for 41.34 % of the respondents, the main factor behind voting for a particular candidate was the distribution of cash, liquor, and freebies. While this may be shocking for a few of us, it isn’t for almost half of the population.

Let’s go beyond the surface and try and understand the exact issue. Every time there are some elections, newspapers, and media (print and social) are full of news related to the seizure of cash, liquor, and drugs. Yet they are distributed and are still an effective weapon to lure the interests of voters. While the rule says that a candidate cannot spend above 70 lakhs in the Lok Sabha elections, most of the candidate violates this rule and freebies are an easy way out. Undoubtedly, this strategy works in influencing the voters, but as voters, this also raises a fundamental question on our choice. We are voting for a person who is breaking rules (corruption) even before he is elected what he will do once he is elected? Also, it highlights the failure of ‘India’ as a democracy. Even after 71 years of independence, the elections in the world’s largest democracy are still the grubby game of cash-for-votes. It is high time we realize the power of our vote and make choice wisely.

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