Published On: Wed, Feb 4th, 2015

ASSOCHAM appeals Election Commission to make election funding completely transparent

logoNew Delhi: ASSOCHAM today made a strong appeal to the government, Election Commission and the major political parties to devise complete transparency in funding of political parties so that multi-billion expenditure on elections can be curtailed and a better connect can be established between the candidates and the voters.

“No level of economic growth can be inclusive unless an opaque system of political funding can be put to an end. India has come a long way on its democratic values but the biggest missing link remains lack of transparency in election funding,” the chamber President Mr Rana Kapoor said.

He said some of the avoidable controversies, allegations and counter-allegations by political parties in the midst of elections can be replaced by meaning debates on governance if electoral reforms are carried out to cover the corporate donations, individual contributions to the political parties. Besides, the government funding of the polls should also be considered.

In a recent paper, the ASSOCHAM had suggested creation of a Government fund of Rs 5000 crore over five years for part funding of candidates spending. The campaign spending should also be subject to the public scrutiny for which the Right to Information Act should be made applicable to political parties. “The political parties, ultimately become the rulers and the ruling class even though they come up through grass root democracy. As Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar said ‘Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion’. Thus, it is imperative that RTI is made applicable to the political parties as well,” the chamber President said.

In its paper on electoral reforms, the ASSOCHAM had said that existing legal structure for regulating election expenditure and income provided “a fertile environment for generation of black money”. The suggestion for total transparency in election receipts and expenditures and part funding by Government would be a “game changer”, it said.

It has also suggested measures to ensure that spending by recipient political parties was equitable over constituencies so as to further democratize conduct of elections and attract more capable but less affluent persons to contest.

The chamber said that these measures would also be a “great incentive to cleansing public life in the country and for better governance”. It said that business would welcome such a move as it would relieve it of pressure to fund elections with unaccounted funds. Transparent funding including revealing source of all donations into a separate election account for all candidates and parties open to public view would also remove public perception that through illegal donations business and political class are promoting a quid pro quo.

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