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India: Sale of party tickets is democratic order

Chennai, Sat, 15 Nov 2008 Syed Ali Mujtaba

The allegation by the senior Congress leaders Margaret Alva and Yogendra Makwana regarding the sale of party tickets have brought the functional dynamics of the Indian democracy into open, purportedly touted as the largest in the world.

Each ticket was supposedly sold at a premium of 80 lakh to 1 crore rupees. A cheap bargain described a witty scribe when he heard the rates and said in actual practice the price tag are much higher.

The selling of the tickets is an established practice among the southern Indian parties particularly those in Tamil Nadu. Most of these parties are personal fiefdom or proprietorship of a particular person or a family and they run the operations of the party as a private business.

Come every election, and an action packed high voltage drama erupts for the distribution of the ticket. All criterions that are mentioned in the rule books of democracy are put on stacks and it's the commercial entrepreneurship alone that comes into play.

The criterion that's normally considered for the distribution of the tickets is; caste factor, muscle power, but the most important of all is the capacity of the candidate to buy the ticket.

This is quite a huge source of revenue to the parties and anyone who aspires to be a politician has to be prepared with the financial muscle to buy the ticket on a premium price. This premium keeps going up with every elections keep in mind the inflation rate that's growing every year.

This practice is in vogue from a long time and there is nothing secret about it. The model code of conduct that comes into force after the announcement of the election hardly pays any attention to such kind of fraudulent practices. The election commission turn a blind eye to this travesty of democracy.

It seems now this virus has even reached to the national parties as well. The allegation made by the senior Congress party leaders like Margaret Alva and Yogendra Makwana has blown the lid out of the working of the Congress party.

Marget Alva had alleged that in the last Karnataka state election, the Congress party had sold the tickets to the highest bidder. She has come out in open because her son was denied the ticket who refused to pay the money being the progeny of one of the most senior leaders of the party.

There was something fishy going on in Karnataka Congress when senior Congress leader Jafer Sharif had announced to sit on hunger strike, when his grandson was denied ticket during the election. The veteran leader had taken up the matter to Delhi and had met the party president to show his resentment. Since then there has been some rumours about the sale of party tickets.

Now when senior Congress leader Margaret Alva and Yogendra Makwana has blown the whistle the rumours are taken for truth. Alva is believed to have sent her resignation as Congress general secretary to Sonia Gandhi in protest of this issue.

The seriousness of these allegations could be ascertained from the fact that similar charges are beginning to resound from other quarters of the Congress camp as well.

Another party functionary, Yogendra Makwana, who headed the AICC's scheduled caste department, has come out in support of Margret Alva. Makwana says there must be "something substantial" in Alva's remarks and demanded an inquiry into her charges.

Makwana without mentioning names charged that at least two SC women aspirants for tickets from Rajasthan had made a similar complaint to him. He alleged that an AICC leader demanded Rs 80 lakh for a ticket from a candidate from Bara constituency in Rajasthan. Another candidate from Alwar complained to him to have asked for Rs 40 lakh for a ticket. Makwana says not one of the 30 names he proposed for the Rajasthan assembly polls was accepted.

The Congress party in a damage-control exercise has rejected the allegations of tickets sale and ruled out a probe into it. Party spokesperson, Jayanti Natarajan has said "there is no truth in the allegations so the question of a probe does not arise."

However, there are not many takers to Congress defence, allegations are flying thick and fast that a coterie has over taken over the Congress and some unscrupulous people are making fortune by the sale of party tickets. It’s also said that many senior leaders in the Congress are feeling suffocated as they are gradually being sidelined. Their allegation of sale of tickets has blown the lid over the functioning of the Congress party.

Every one knows that Rajya Sabha seats are sold to the industrialist and business houses from a long time. The money bags buy them because they feel becoming Member of Parliament would add on their status. They also can do some wheeling and dealing to expand their business empire.

However, even this interest is loosing sheen. Now many see becoming an MP a waste of time. To come round the problem recently a money-bag had bought Jharkhand RS ticket for its company's manager. This person was supposed to look after his business interest in Parliament.

The pronouncement by senior Congress leaders like Margaret Alva and Yogendra Makwana has confirmed that the practice of the selling of the tickets in the state assembly is an accepted practice in Indian democracy. Its logical deduction points that the same practice could be at work for the Lok Sabha seat as well. If this is so then this is the most disgusting part about the functioning of Indian democracy one can imagine.

This dark side of Indian democracy, which had been at work for long but no one wanted to talk about it, is now unmasked by the utterances of the senior Congress leaders. Hats off to them. After sixty years of independence this is a new level to which Indian democracy has stooped to and his brings us to the big question - Is India on sale? Well your guess is as good as mine!


Syed Ali Mujtaba is a working journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at

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