Black turning white

Demonetisation might not have brought out all the hidden cash from the closets, bathrooms, sofas and attics, but an election will bring out hundreds of crores of wealth stashed away from the piercing eyes of the taxmen.

Now that the elections are around the corner in Karnataka, we can look forward to money-flow. Crores of rupees in black will change colour and become white overnight. An election in this vibrant democracy is not just you and I exercising our franchise, or a dozen-plus candidates vying for just one seat. It is a multi-crore business done mostly in stealth, in which money changes hands. The chap who wins is not the sole beneficiary of this gigantic exercise. There are hundreds of people who make a neat buck in the process.

Anybody can guess that each candidate needs a minimum of Rs 1 crore just to stay in the fray and make himself visible and each constituency
has at least five aspirants who are eager to serve the poor, the downtrodden, oppressed and suppressed, besides you and me.

This means each constituency's budget is a minimum of Rs 5 crore and multiply this number by 224 - the number of constituencies that will be sending out representatives to the Assembly - you will have a staggering Rs 1,000 crore-plus budget.

But it is the bare minimum that will be splurged in the next two months. For some multi-crorepatis, however, this bare minimum is a pittance. They have a fat budget and are ready to be a lot more extravagant.

And who are the beneficiaries of this extravagance? The chap who ferries people to listen to the netas at public meetings will be very busy now. He has a price.

So has the chap who prints the banners and leaflets; his machines will run nonstop. For those who rent out chairs, the sound system equipment, those who erect stages and shamianas, it is time to dip into the pockets of the netas.

Travel agents will be hard put to meet the demands that the netas will be making on them and the drivers will be made to ferry people round the clock.

Another section of people who will eagerly look forward to an election is the traders who supply gift items. It could be sari, pressure cooker, fan, liquor etc. Fast-moving consumer goods will acquire greater speed these days. Not all prefer gifts in kind. Many prefer cash. To feed this community, bundles of currency notes of different hues have to be kept ready.

ATMs are already running out of cash because the wads of cash are relocating themselves in the safe confines of netas and their hirelings. According to veteran journalist Sainath, everybody loves a good drought. We can add: an election too. What is earned during those dry days is kept for a rainy day called election.

And those who are not the beneficiary of this largesse can feel proud of being part of this vibrant democracy.

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