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Whose money is being used for political campaigns?

The political campaigns of all the major candidates this Lok Sabha, seem to involve huge budgets - however the question is if tax payer money is being used for this purpose

india Updated: Apr 06, 2009 15:01 IST

Media today, both print and television, seemed to be hijacked by Election Ad campaigns.

All TV channels are running ads sponsored by the Central Government, with the Bharath Nirman campaign, ESIC Ministry, Aviation Ministry, and of course the three minute ad of a changing Uttar Pradesh under the able leadership of Behenji Mayawati.

As a result, these channels sometimes look as though they are driven by political propaganda as opposed to entertainment and news. While its alright to have these ads on entertainment channels, some find it objectionable to have them on news channels. News channels are meant to be neutral, and not promote any party. It is true that times are bad and there are fewer advertisers. However airing politically driven ad campaigns only dilutes neutrality, and affects the way in which news is perceived, with, every small bit of news taking political overtones.

Newspapers have not been spared either. A leading daily in Delhi today (27th February) looked more like a paper of advertisements rather than a NEWSpaper. Thirteen of its 24 pages were full page ads, mostly featuring Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh. It seemed like all their reports also seem to be guided by the ads they get from different political outfits and parties.

While all this may be a normal feature of campaigning, a question that does arise is whose money is it that’s going into these ads? If the Central and State Governments are sponsoring them, then isn’t it our money, the taxpayer’s money, that is being channelized into this?

We pay taxes for better infrastructure and better services. We pay an extra percent, as education cess so economically underprivileged children can get educated, but the literacy rate doesn’t seemed to have changed much. We pay taxes so that the government can meet its expenses in making out lives better.
But instead, it looks like the government is spending this money on advertisements instead. This is not just a waste of paper, but also our money. If you have done good work, then its effects will be felt, people will know about it. There is no need to waste money making the public aware of the work you have done. The public knows anyway and will judge you based on that. Its time political outfits realized this and stopped wasting our money.

History often repeats itself. The NDA government launched a massive campaign called ‘India Shining’. It spent crores of taxpayer’s money, but eventually lost. One of the main reasons was that the Congress in particular, highlighted its unnecessary spending. The UPA now seem to be suffering from short-term memory.

Who knows? The UPA may lose this time, and get targeted for all the money they are unnecessarily spending.

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First Published: Apr 01, 2009 16:27 IST