One of the most often heard word during election season is ‘Gari-Bhara’ a euphemism for asking vehicle fare or Travelling cost. The issue pops up during election time as many people live outside the constituency- for work, studies etc. The Gari-Bhara becomes a pertinent point when the person is not working. Therefore, it is seen that during election candidates usually distribute money to the individuals in the name of Gari Bhara.
It is not without merit, the cost of travelling these days are huge and individuals who are not working find infeasible to incur the amount which inhibits democratic process. So, this can be categorised basically as an a-moral act- not immoral. Nevertheless, the pertinent question is- does it affect the free and fair election? The answer to the question is an empathic yes!
Firstly, if a voter refrains from voting owing to the high cost of travelling, it negates and impinged on the meaning of the participatory democracy, as the voter is not having a free will to exercise his choice. Secondly, if a voter accepts the money (travelling allowance) from any candidate, again he/she will not be able to exercise his free will. In both cases, it will have a dent on the choice of the voter, thereby affecting the democratic process. So, what can be the way out of this dichotomy?
One probable solution could be to create a ‘pool of money’ by all the contesting candidates of the Constituency. The money from the Pool may be used to compensate the genuine voters who either jobless or students or for some special categories of people residing outside the constituency on the production of necessary documents. Formalizing the informal distribution of money as Gari-Bhara would have some positive effect. Firstly, it would give free choice to the voter and voters will vote neutrally- as they are not taking money from any candidate. Secondly, it would increase the participation of the people in the electoral process.
Therefore, the formalization of distributing Gari-bhara would help in restricting the influence of money power to some extent. The idea of Gari-Bhara is here to stay, better we should devise a way to neutralise its effect on the electoral process.