Sunday, March 29

State funding is the perfect pill to cleanse the electoral syastem

There should be legislation according to which election funding should be legalized and State funding is the perfect pill to cleanse the country's electoral system

Elections and money go hand in hand. It is a well-established fact that during elections, candidates and parties are largely supported by money that is not accounted for. Instances of arm twisting by parties or candidates are not uncommon. Till date there is no institutional mechanism for funding as opinion on the issue of state funding of elections continues to be divided. The reason being off course is little acceptance or consensus in the political parties over this issue.

Till the time there is no political will to limit money power and to ensure a level playing field – (the ballot box) nothing will change. Who can muster the political will and put these proposals into practice is a moot question

IN 1998 under the chairmanship of Indrajit Gupta of the Communist Party of India (CPI) state funding was proposed but nothing came out of it. Again in 2006 with a view to give a dimension to the issue of state funding an agreement among recognized political parties was proposed to the Election Commission to consider certain recommendations and decision is still awaited. Some felt at the same time that 'not enough' while some others 'totally opposed' the modality.

The scope and mode of state funding of elections is indeed a factor to keep a check on model code of conduct and it should have a legal sanctity.

No doubts transparency seems to be the buzz word for most of the corporate houses as far as political donations or funding is concerned lets understand the views of corporate conglomerates like the Tatas and the Birlas. They have set up electoral trusts to fund political parties and independent candidates. Most of the corporates and industrialists are in favour of state funding. CII has a policy on political funding. Mahindra and Bajaj in principle advocate state.

Political parties have performed a vital public function to sustain democracy at the same time there is a great and urgent need to strengthen the democratic forces with a clean electoral process. We need to create an environment where donations can be made to political parties in a transparent, non-discriminatory and non-discretionary manner to help achieve a political framework for overall economic and social development of the country.

Mixture of individual contributions, supporters in the diaspora and members of the business community, some of whom do not want to be disclosed are sure against it along with parties who claim and express doubt that the government would agree to provide funds to its electoral rivals.

The pro state funding advocates will have to justify why it would not be a big mistake for any opposition party to have financial expectations on the government. How do you expect an enemy to give you ammunition to fight it?

An initiative is needed…INVENT INDIA. Since last 25 years this issue has not been converted into a law Inspite of the fact that state funding of elections would bring in an element of equality to electoral contests, particularly because it would help remove the disadvantage faced by parties which represent the socially and economically weaker sections and which often have limited access to big donors.

The state should provide funds to political parties. State funding are ideal and it will streamline the political process. It will 100 % clean the electoral system will bring transparency and accountability. But then those issues don’t figure on the electoral agenda of any political party.

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