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Times Now TV's sting exposing blatant bribing for RS votes: Are revolutionary reforms in the Rajya Sabha possible?
On 2nd June 2016, Times Now TV channel aired a sting showing blatant bribing of MLAs in Karnataka for sealing Rajya Sabha seats. Both Congress and JDS are trying to poach one another's MLA's to make up the short fall for their party candidates.

In the process it was also observed that around Rs 150 crore was the rate per MLA's vote for the Rajya Sabha.

The information is not new, but may be the sting operation gave some embarrassment to both Congress and JDS. Although, both parties brazed out indicating that this is the reality, BJP demanded action against the candidates in question.

But Congress sympathizers counter attacked BJP asking their role in electing Vijay Mallya from Karnataka in 2016. Similarly some also asked BJP what's their strategy in arranging votes required from outside the party in Jharkhand, UP and Haryana.

The truth is that every party uses Rajya Sabha elections either to sell or buy MLA votes. Only wealthy people with lot of black money can secure a Rajya Sabha seat or somebody close to the top brass of a party can secure the seat, if that particular party has the strength to send his candidate of its own.

The consequences of such unethical and corrupt practices are also visible. Gone are those days when it was considered that Rajya Sabha is a house of intellectuals. Nowadays it has become a backdoor entry for politicians rejected by people, some wealthy people having a lot of money to spare and some people who are loyal to the family of a dynastical party.

The level of working in Rajya Sabha has also lowered a lot. From a house of intellectuals, it nowadays has reduced to a platform for cacophonic altercations, hooliganism, obstructions, sloganeering and a house subjected to repeated adjournments.

Arnab Goswami demanded that EC should countermand the RS election in the light of the expose. Many common people also sought action against corrupt people. But is it possible? I don't think so. Let me describe why these blatant bribes neither can't be stopped nor the bribe-giver/bribe-receiver be punished.

In Tamil Nadu, offering freebies is very common during elections. The parties straightway offer bribes to voters for voting for their party. Yes they don't offer cash in public, but their offers also include, colour televisions, mobile phones, refrigerators apart from cheap rice, dal and a wide range of commodities.

Other states have also started following this strategy. Some activists knocked the door of courts, citing that these offers of freebies are blatant bribes to voters which are not only unethical but also undemocratic. But courts held otherwise. According to the court verdict, India is a welfare state, thus parties have the right to offer anything that's for the welfare of the voters.

In the Times Now TV sting case, many MLAs have said that they were offered for Rs 100 crore development fund for their constituencies. Some candidates also said that the party is supporting them so that they can get some contributions from the wealthy candidates during elections.

Let's consider if developmental fund is unethical. Definitely yes, and it is also a violation of the Constitutional provision to the right to equality. How can a CM sanction 100 crore fund to constituencies for supporting MLAs and no or meager funds to the constituencies for opposing MLAs?

Even if this fund is allocated to MLAs constituency, where will the fund go? Won't it go to those areas from where the MLAs got votes, depriving other areas where MLAs didn't get votes? Isn't it like punishing the people for five years for not voting for the winning candidate?

And then, what is this development fund? It's more or less like MPLAD fund, lion's share of which goes in the pocket of the MLAs or MPs. It's an indirect way of generating black money. Thus, we know how the blatant bribe is taking place. But the point is, can it be criminality proved?

I say that criminality it can't be proved, because the court will say that the MLAs have every right to negotiate for the development of their constituencies. Case closed. Arnab Goswami might be screaming from his studio, supported by motivated people for a change, but nothing is going to happen.

Isn't there any other way? I am not pessimistic on this, but not optimistic either. There can be two options. Scrap RS as a whole as it has neither any contribution nor any relevance in today's India. I don't think people rejected by public should enter a house through backdoor.

But the question is who will scrap the RS? The Constitution says that any amendment in it requires two thirds majority in both the houses and hence, the RS will not agree to scrap itself. The second option is to make Rajya Sabha MPs elected directly by public and add one additional qualification requirement that the candidates should not have been active in politics for last five years nor he/she should have any association with any political party. This way it can be ensured that deserving intellectuals go to Rajya Sabha. But, is it possible? The answer is that the Rajya Sabha of today's structure will not pass such an amendment.

Is there really no way to reform the Rajya Sabha? I would say yes, there's a way. It's a way through public revolution. RTI, RTE and many other possible ways of public activism can be remedial measures, but a public revolution is required. Who will lead this revolution? Anna Hazare? May be he or somebody equal in stature to him, but until then, such bribing will continue despite all stings and exposes.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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