‘Candidates end up spending 20 times more than the prescribed limit’
Hyderabad: Former Chief Election Commissioner of India T.S. Krishnamurthy suggested creating of ‘national election fund’ with 100% tax exemption to facilitate public funding of polls.
Chairing the plenary session on ‘Legitimate Campaign Expenditure in Indian politics’ at the first annual conference of ‘Indian Democracy at Work’ with the theme of ‘Money Power in Politics’ here on Thursday, he agreed with the views expressed that the limit for expenditure imposed by the Election Commission for Assembly and Lok Sabha constituencies could not be enforced. Candidates end up spending 20 times more than the prescribed limit, it was pointed out.
He however asserted that the source of money to political parties should be strictly regulated and bearer bonds did not promote transparency and they could also allow foreign money to come to the parties. He felt cash contribution to political parities was dangerous and there would be limitations even for the administration to check them.
On the suggestion of the Vice-President that simultaneous polls be held, he said it would require Constitution amendment. Reforms are not coming through as political parties want status quo to continue but unless the power of money is controlled, elections and democracy will not succeed in the country, he said.
Telangana State BJP president K. Laxman welcomed the suggestion for proportional representation to give seats to the political parties on the basis of their vote share rather than the ‘first past the post system’ which encourages rampant vote buying. Dr. Laxman said he was the victim of money power as he had lost by 200 votes in 2004 as he refused to buy votes. With advent of regional parties post globalisation, expenditure on elections went up enormously and role of caste, community and divisive politics increased. In 2019 elections, Rs.10,000 crore were spent by political parties in Andhra Pradesh and Rs.6,000 crore in Telangana.
Mr. Konda Vishweshwar Reddy said laws to reign in election expenditure failed as only 10% of actual expenditure was legitimate expenditure while 90% of expenditure was illegitimate/black money. The system needs to be fixed to attract clean people, he said.
Natasha Jog, Election Integrity Lead, India, South Asia, Facebook said since 2016, thrice the number of people were deployed to work on elections issue to make Facebook platform safe. “We brought down 2.2 billion fake accounts to check misinformation, and transparency was being brought on political advertisements.”
Courtesy: The Hindu