Photo: PTI Election Commission not in favour of state funding of polls
At the height of the debate over the decision to scrap old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had proposed state funding of polls, along with simultaneous Lok Sabha and assembly elections, to improve transparency in public life and combat corruption.
While a few political parties endorsed the idea, the Election Commission is not in the favour of the proposal.
State funding of polls imply the government providing funds to parties and candidates to fight elections, replacing the existing system of ploughing in private or party funds for the job.
The poll panel has conveyed to a parliamentary committee that it does not support state funding of elections but instead seeks “radical” reforms in the way funds are spent by political parties.
“The Election Commission is not in favour of state funding as it will not be able to prohibit or check candidates’ own expenditures or expenditures of others over and above that which is provided by the state (government).
“The Election Commission’s view is that for addressing the real issues, there have to be radical changes in the provisions regarding receipt of funds by political parties and the manner in which such funds are spent by them so as to provide for complete transparency in the matter,” it said in a written submission before the parliamentary standing committee on Law and Personnel.
The committee is examining the issue of EVMs, paper trail machines and electoral reforms.
On Friday, the committee had discussed electoral reforms with senior EC and Law Ministry officials.
In a consultation floated ahead of its 30 March, 2015 meeting with stakeholders on the issue of political finances, the EC had said, in view of the high cost of election campaigning in terms of media advertisements and public rallies, use of “big money” in politics is a major concern.
“If wealthy individuals and the corporate pay to the political party or the candidate in order to make them listen to them, this undermines the core principles of democracy and transfers the economic inequality to political inequality,” the EC consultation paper had said.
(With PTI inputs)