India and the UK: Dirty Money in Politics in Action
The United Kingdom (UK) is popularly known as the hub of money laundering due to its legal loopholes. Politics in the UK has opened vulnerable avenues that pull dirty money from all over the world to London.
This allows various foreign actors to influence UK politics through dirty money and foreign funding.
The UK is not the only country facing this menace. India holds the largest election globally every five years.
The 2019 Indian elections were the most expensive globally, in which almost $8.5 billion were spent.
However, being a third world country, India does not have a rigorous checks and balances system that can stop the inflow of dirty money in the country’s politics.
How is dirty money influencing politics in some of the most important elections worldwide? Let’s see.
London: The Hub of Money Laundering
An advisory body of the UK government has released a report voicing the increased role of dirty money in UK politics. According to the report, the digital campaigning efforts have escalated the legal complications for campaign finance.
It is an undeniable truth that the paradigm shift from traditional to digital political campaigns, especially in COVID-19 times, had worried the legislators who never tried to regulate online campaign funds.
This is one of the reasons why the potential scammers tried to exploit digital campaigning avenues to use their dirty money.
As a matter of fact, the old-fashioned laws cannot track money used digitally, and, seeing the effectiveness of the internet campaigns in today’s world, it is only a matter of time that every politician has to embrace this campaigning technique.
So, all in all, the UK government has to figure out appropriate measures to crack down against money launderers who are whitening their black money through digital campaigns.
As the government is unable to keep a track record of the foreign funding, it could limit the political donations to money that is generated only in the UK to ensure fair practices.
Similarly, the government can also increase fines on candidates violating the money usage protocols in UK politics.
India: Where Money Drives the Elections at an Unparalleled Rate
Then comes the largest and most expensive elections of the world, i.e., the Indian elections.
The problem is bigger than anywhere else in this South Asian nation. What would happen if politicians buy votes with the money they collect for their campaigns? This is exactly what is happening in India.
A fair estimate suggests that almost 37 percent of voters took money for their votes in the Indian elections of 2014.
This is not a big deal for a country where people sell their votes for a one-time meal or an extra piece of cloth.
Police, over time in India, captured thousands of liquor bottles just before their distribution to voters to buy their votes.
Certainly, all of this comes due to the lack of regulations in the political arenas, when government authorities are unable to track the political funding in the election cycles.
The concept of donation in India is flawed in itself. With some of the biggest global mafias working freely in the country, it is rare for the government to keep campaign finance records clean.
A majority of politicians serving in Lok Sabha right now are facing criminal charges. Many politicians themselves are involved in perpetuating the concept of dark money in Indian politics because it makes them reach the offices.
The systematic loopholes in India enable politicians to commit corruption once they come to office. This encourages them to flood as much money in political campaigns as possible, as they know that they would get all the money back after coming to power.
The concept of dark money in India is not limited to general elections only. Elections within the legislature Lok Sabha itself offers politicians favorable grounds to use the money to get the outcome of their choice on some specific bill.
The famous cash for vote scandal is a classic example of this when the past and current ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) bribed other politicians for the outcome of their choice.
Digital fundraising can keep politicians funding records neat and clean, allowing them not to play dirty politics at the expense of public interest.
In the long run, politicians doing this have a lot to worry about their reputation management once some scandal unveils.
Even at times that political donations are considered a national crime in many countries, politicians going this path is always a risky approach.