Use of money by parties during byelection criticised

Staff Correspondent

`Political parties not averse to subverting democracy'`Voters of the constituency were treated like beggars'

MYSORE: Decrying the use of money by political parties during the recently held byelection to the Chamundeshwari Legislative Assembly constituency in Mysore, noted rationalist K. Ramdas said this was a threat to democracy.

"Democracy will die if political parties are allowed to shamelessly misuse caste and money power in electoral politics," Prof. Ramdas said, while delivering the keynote address at a debate on "Lessons learnt from Chamundeshwari elections A debate", jointly organised by Federation of Progressive Organisations and Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia Trust at Kalamandira in Mysore on Sunday.

He said political parties have proved that they are not averse to subverting democracy by playing the caste card and distributing money.

The byelection saw the addition of caste to money and liquor power, which had been a feature of earlier polls. "If vested and feudal interests are allowed to succeed, electoral victories will be no more than shams engineered through adult franchise," he said.

Prof. Ramdas said that politicians, including Ministers of the State Government, had treated the voters of the constituency as "beggars".

He alleged that politicians had offered inducements to the leaders of caste-based organisations and had used them as "power-brokers" to secure votes.

Instead of falling prey to the machinations of the political parties, the caste groups in the constituency should have come together, discussed among themselves the merits and demerits of the candidates and exercised their franchise accordingly, Prof. Ramdas said.

He said he had feared the outbreak of caste riots during the elections.

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