In the backdrop of the Unique Identification (UID)-Aadhaar enabled service delivery being initiated by the Centre, a civil society group has submitted a letter to the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) quoting a World Bank study, which says that cash transfers by the government tantamount to vote buying.
The policy research working paper, titled, ‘Conditional Cash Transfers, Political Participation and Voting Behaviour’ brought out by the World Bank in October 2102 provides evidence to support the notion that political participation and political views are responsive to targeted transfers.
It notes that in Columbia, “During the 2010 presidential election, voters covered by FA (large scale conditional cash transfer) was strategically targeted and motivated by clientelism and vote buying,” stated the letter submitted by the Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties, to the CEC office on October 20.
The World Bank paper also stated that, “The voters respond to targeted transfers and that these transfers can foster support for incumbents”. The UID-Aadhaar and the proposed unified payment infrastructure is an act in designing political mechanism to capture pre-existing schemes for political patronage in spite of the absence of ‘legislative mechanisms’, the letter stated. The letter alleged that the launch of biometric data based on 12-digit UID-Aadhaar number-linked welfare schemes is being bulldozed, by keeping in mind the 2014 elections, with the ulterior motives of altering the voting behaviour of the citizens by creating a universal identity infrastructure linked to unified payment infrastructure.
The letter further stated that the website of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) continues to claim that UID-Aadhaar is ‘voluntary’ not ‘mandatory’. But how can Aadhaar be deemed voluntary if the service delivery is being made dependent on it.