Thursday, 6 July 2017

Transparency in Political Funding ?



Economic Times ( 06 July ) carries a report titled :


“ Political Funding Next on Radar : FM “



As per this report , Shri Jaitley said :


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“ We are looking at some major steps to be announced by which we want to cleanse the entire political funding in India


For the last 70 years, the world’s largest democracy has survived on funding which really brings no credit to the democracy and I think it has been the prime minister’s insistence that this has to be one of the subjects that the government has to take up now as a top priority “




We are aware of some modest reforms ( electoral bonds / cap on cash payments ) that Shri Jaitley introduced in the last budget


But no one believes that these reforms go far enough ( - including CEC ! )


Millions of Indians ( but no political party ) want ALL donations , irrespective of the amount involved , to be by official / transparent channels ( cheque / Online Payment etc ) , and want mandatory filing of INCOME / EXPENSE statements with CEC !


I request Shri Jaitleyji to consider following suggestion :




STRUCTURE


·         No direct donations ( even Rs 5 ) by anyone to any Political Party or to any Political Leader ( even as birth-day gift ! )


·         Creation of a CENTRAL ELECTION FUND ( CEF ) , controlled / administered by the Central Election Commission


·         Donations can only be given to CEF – and only by cheque / online etc , quoting Aadhar number



·         Donations will get tax exemption as CSR


·         CEC will publish , on its web site , a continuous / dynamic / daily ACCOUNT of amounts received ( with Aadhar No of each donor ) and amounts spent / disbursed by CEC to Political Parties / Candidates ( with full details of each )


·         From CEF , Election Commission will distribute FUNDS to political parties for fighting elections / other expenses , on predetermined ‘ Occasions



PROCESS

·         Funding of Political Parties by CEC ( from CEF ) , can be made as per following two alternatives :


[ A ]    AFTER  THE  ELECTION ( CANDIDATE – based Reimbursements ) :


#  After each Election ( Central / State / Municipal ) , ALL candidates contesting the election ( including independent candidates ) , shall submit to CEC , a STATEMENT of EXPENSES incurred in fighting the election.


Even if a group of parties have come together to fight the election ( MahaGathBandhan ), each candidate will get linked to ONE party only



#  Statement will be as per format decided by CEC , giving category-wise expense details ( all payments listed in the statement , must be through legal / official channels , such as Cheque / Electronic Bank Transfer / Mobile Wallets etc )



#  There will be UPPER LIMITS of REIMBURSEMENT for each category of expense and an overall limit



#  The statement will also show the “ Sources of Funds “ ( with full details such as OWN or borrowed from CLOSE RELATIVEs , with names )



#  Actual amount to be reimbursed to each candidate , will be computed based on a number of factors , main factor being the “ percentage of popular votes polled “ by that candidate ( no reimbursement for those candidates who get less than 5 % of popular vote )



#  Actual re-imbursements made by CEC , shall not be counted as INCOME of that candidate , for Income Tax purpose




[ B ]   BEFORE  THE  ELECTION ( PARTY – wise ADVANCES ) :


# Before each election , All recognized Political Parties will get ADVANCES from CEF , computed using a TRANSPARENT , mathematical formula , based on following factors :


# FACTORS with POSITIVE WEIGHTAGE :

·         In all the elections since independence ( Central + States + Municipal ) , percentage of popular votes polled by each party in those elections along with the percentage of seats won by each party


·         Number of years for which the party has been recognized by CEC


·         Cumulative number of “ Days “ ( not months or years ) , each party was in power ( Centre + States + Municipality ) since independence


·         No ( or percentage ) of seats “ won “ in each election



     #   FACTORS with NEGATIVE WEIGHTAGE :


·         No of MPs / MLAs having criminal cases pending against them


·         No of times candidates / parties were “ warned “ by CEC ( for any reason )


·         No of years for which Annual Return NOT filed with EC


·         No of candidates / Legislators convicted by a Court



DEAR SHRI JAITLEYJI :



Above mentioned suggestion , is by no means , comprehensive


You may want to consider a HYBRID MODEL which is a combination of the alternatives listed above


It is important that all the figures / data used in the FORMULA , are supplied only by the Election Commission and the Speakers of various legislatures – and made public


Since there is no way political parties will reach a consensus on my suggestion , best way would be to publish an online SURVEY QUESTIONNAIRE and ask citizens to vote / rate , against each item of suggestion and then publish the FINDINGS ( on ALL government web sites ) , on a continuous basis


It would be too much to expect the Political Parties to accept this reform without building up pressure from 800 + million voters .


You may even consider a REFERENDUM !



07  July  2017


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