Election Commission today opposed the idea of state funding of elections saying unless “radical reforms” are carried out in electoral campaign and political finance, it should not be allowed.
The EC said that such provisions cannot be allowed as it will not be possible to check expenditures over and above which is provided by the government. But at the same time, it said, the poll watchdog is “open” to the idea of expanding the “in-kind subsidy” for the election campaign, with simultaneous reforms for transparency and accountability of parties and candidates.
In a consultation floated today ahead of its March 30 meeting with stakeholders on the issue of ‘political finances’, the EC 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 today.
“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 said.
It pointed out that the Law Commission has recommended that the wording of Section 78 B of the Representation of the People Act permits the central government, in consultation with the EC, to supply certain items to the electors or the candidates and this provision can be used to expand the “in-kind subsidy” to include free public meeting rooms, certain printing, costs and free postage.
The law panel had recently submitted a report to the government on electoral reforms in which it opposed the concept of state funding.
The EC’s consultation paper is based on the recommendations of the Law Commission.