Saturday, May 14, 2016

Politicians' Dilemma

We have all heard about Prisoners' Dilemma in Game Theory to analyse the optimal strategy to be followed by players in a game. That dilemma is now obsolete. In comes the politicians' dilemma which is more contemporary and is of more popular interest.

Three vans carrying Rs.570 crore in cash were together caught by the police in Tirupur this morning. Three cars were accompanying these vans. Passengers in the cars claimed that they were policemen from Andhra Pradesh and that the money was being shifted from SBI Coimbatore to SBI Vizakhapatnam. They had no identity cards. Relevant documentary evidence from SBI were not available. Since more than 12 hours have passed, it is reasonable to conclude that SBI is not in the picture.

It is obvious to all barring perhaps the Election Commission that the money is meant for distribution in connection with Tamil Nadu elections. The parties involved can only be the DMK and ADMK. Other parties do not have so much at stake. These two parties must be knowing which party's money is involved in the instant case. The party whose money it is not can easily go public with the information. But neither party would do this because both parties are egregiously distributing money to get votes.

Hence the dilemma is simple. There is no dilemma. The truth is known to both parties. But they will keep the truth to themselves because they love truth so much!

Added on May 15: SBI has belatedly clarified that this is a normal transfer of funds from one of its currency chests to another. The very fact that the Election Commission could suspect that the money might be for bribing voters gives us jitters on the state of democratic politics in Tamil Nadu.

There is an alternative analysis. Election Commission wants to pretend that it is very agile and acting without fear. EC perhaps wants to cover up its inability or unwillingness to be strict with political parties violating the norms. Now people may be misled into thinking that the EC is not a paper tiger. It is worth noting that a substantial part of cash earlier seized by EC has already been returned.

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