Friday, August 24, 2007

Try giving us better roads, Mr.Karat

Courtesy the Left sponsored nuclear impasse, as a value demanding citizen of India, I suggest a constitutional amendment to help our future governments from being held to ransom by quirky coalition partners.

I don’t debate on the nuclear deal itself. The issue here is whether we want a mid-term poll and if so, who can demand it; the electorate or the elected representatives? Having elected them once every 5 years at a huge cost, shouldn’t we, the tax payers that fund this jamboree, expect them to run the full term? I worry for the billions that would get spent on an all too avoidable mid-term poll by the Government for deployment of security personnel and polling staff, setting up polling stations (some 800,000 throughout the country for a general election), purchase of electronic voting machines, and issuance of photo identification cards.

Taste this. The 1999 election cost the exchequer Rs.8.80 billion ($212 m). It grew at a CAGR of 21.37% since 1967, when its cost was Rs.17.9m. On that basis, the 2008 mid-term poll if it occasions, would cost us Rs.50 billion ($1.2 b). Remember the money is all what you and I have paid as taxes and we still are making do with the pathetic (conditions of power, water, roads and other soft infrastructure like healthcare and education) infrastructure that we have. Wouldn’t these billions be better spent on laying better roads than elections?

This is what I have in mind. When any elected government faces a mid-term crisis because of the tail wagging the dog (minority coalition partners that act up and threaten to withdraw support), the legislative process should be automatically funneled to a permanent body that lasts for the remainder of the term. This will cut the Mamata Banerjees, Prakash Karats of the world down to size or at least wouldn't tempt them to precipitate a crisis, as there's nothing in it for them, no arms to twist. Since that delegation is authorized by the ruling coalition, petty prejudices would not short circuit policy making. Wouldn't you agree...?

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