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Cash crunch to hit netas’ Maharashtra poll plans

Currency ban will come in way of free flow of black money ahead of municipal council and legislative council elections

mumbai Updated: Nov 10, 2016 00:22 IST
Surendra P Gangan
Political analyst Hemant Desai said with the notes of Rs 2,000 being introduced immediately, there is a window open for a generation of new chunk of black money.
Political analyst Hemant Desai said with the notes of Rs 2,000 being introduced immediately, there is a window open for a generation of new chunk of black money.(Kunal Patil/ HT)

The immediate impact of the ban on the higher denomination of the currency notes will be witnessed in the ensuing municipal council and legislative council elections to be held later this month. According to political leaders and commentators, the elections, at all levels, witness free flow of black money.

According to a politician from a leading party, the candidates who were counting on money power will be in big trouble after the central government scrapped Rs500 and Rs1,000 notes.

“Many of the sitting corporators have not been given candidature by their party in the ensuing municipal council elections, but they enjoy the voting right for the legislative council election as a corporator. The corporators who have not been repeated by the party are most likely to defy the party whip for the voting. Since most civic bodies are controlled by the Congress and Nationalist Congress Party, this decision would hit them harder. With elections held through secret ballot, it will be difficult to keep a
check even on the corporators who have been repeated for the election. This has led to horse trading as the candidates for the legislative elections are openly trying to woo the corporators with the help of money,”he added.

The leader said now the candidates are likely to face the hardship in fulfilling the demand for cash by the corporators.

Similarly, the candidates in fray for municipal council elections had made monetary arrangements to distribute cash among voters.

“It is now an open secret that candidates distribute Rs1,000 to Rs2,000 per voter even in civic elections.The candidates from leading parties distribute lakhs of rupees among voters and in cash. Now there is big question mark before them with the currency losing its power,” a Jalgaon revenue official said.

A political leader said that though the ‘illegal’ notes may be distributed in the elections being held in November as the voters can get them exchanged from banks, but the real challenge will be in 2017 elections.

He also said the candidates may face problem paying corporators as the amount is high. According to him, on average per candidate expenditure ranges from Rs 5-10 crore for the corporator elections, while it is much more in case of legislator polls.

A leader from another party said most candidates in the fray for legislative council polls are financially strong and spend money to woo corporators’ votes.

Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar admitted to free flow of black money in the elections. “The new regime will curb the black money in future elections and it will be beneficial to our party as we do not believe in such practices,” he said.

“There is no doubt that the new decision will help curb the flow of black money in these elections. But with the notes of Rs2,000 being introduced immediately, there is a window open for a generation of new chunk of black money. But there are other ways out for the politician to fund the elections,” said political analyst Hemant Desai.