The Most Epic Political Campaign Ever

Politicians have like to promise that they will do things to make people’s lives better. They may throw in numbers and promise bigger and better and more of something that the country lacks. People vote because they hope that the party or person they are voting for will live up to their word but they seldom do.

The promises are usually vague and sometimes, they sound fanciful but we lap it up. It’s not easy to sway people to vote for one particular party. It’s hard to commit to something that people will actually hold you accountable for. What does this have to do with gold?

There are certain cultures and countries where gold is held in high esteem. Gold is a big deal in India. Not only does the country buy a lot of it from other countries, but ordinary people from all works of life consider god to be important. So , one Political party in India decided that it would give the most coveted thing in the country, gold.

The Hindu Nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said that it would give 80,000 brides gold worth $530. According to news sources, the party has been facing a tough re-election campaign, especially in the north-eastern state of Assam. So, it has been promising gold.

In Assam, it is customary for a father to give his daughter a set of god ornaments as a blessing when she leaves to start a new life in a new home. What BJP is promising to do is essential to play the role of daddy. One could say, it’s a sleazy and underhanded thing to do considering that the communities in that state are mostly poor. But politicians have always been sleazy and underhanded. They will take any opportunity they can get, even if it means buying votes.

The state of Assam has allocated $42 million for the next fiscal year beginning in April 1 for this gold promise. The gold will be bought directly from the Reserve Bank of India and distributed to brides across the state. To be eligible, you need to come from a family that makes 500,000 rupees ($7,000) or less a year. Only two women per family will be given a 11.66 gram of gold. According to the political party, this offer was made in good faith and has nothing to do with vote-buying or bribery.

The promise is real and they can actually do this legally because there is nothing in the law books that says they can’t. The tricky bit here is that as the party in power they actually hold the purse strings. They can dip into taxpayer’s money to fund their political strategy.

The election law does, however, have certain limits. Once the date of the election has been set, the gift giving will have to stop. However, gold isn’t the only thing that the BJP is giving away. The party has pledged to give electricity bills paid to girls who achieve 60% in the school-leaving exam. This is a great incentive for young girls to stay in school.

Gold does seem the biggest deal. Traditionally, Indians have a great affinity for gold. It is more than a luxury item for many, but a necessity. Buying gold in India is not only for people with money, but a necessity across all income classes. Gold is interwoven into the country’s cultural rites including marriage. Indians value gold also as a store of wealth, especially in poor regions. Two-thirds of the demand come from rural regions where people live outside the official tax system.

If you are a girl from a poor family in Assam and you are about to get married. Your father might not have to buy that gold for you. If you are in school and you do very well in your studies, the government will give you an electric bicycle – talk about tangible assets with value, you can never go wrong with gold. Will the BJP’s play pay off? Only time will tell.


Sources:
https://www.foxnews.com/world/indian-state-announces-plan-to-give-brides-gold-ahead-of-major-election
https://edition.cnn.com/2015/08/20/business/indian-wedding-gold-jewelery-prices/index.html

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