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Loksatta calls for transparency in election funding and expenses
18 May 2010

Talking to the media with reference to a statement made by the Chief Election Commissioner, Loksatta spokesman Mr. Ajit Phadnis expressed that in the present scenario public funding of elections is not a good idea. Parties and candidates will only use this additional public fund to spend more money on elections. This is because currently no party, other than Loksatta, adheres to the election expenditure limits.

Earlier, at a press conference organised in the city as part of a two-day Conference of Chief Electoral Officers of southern states, the Chief Election Commissioner, Mr. Navin Chawla had indicated that there were ongoing talks about introducing public funding of elections.

Mr. Phadnis felt that there is currently serious under-reporting of election expenditure by candidates of Congress, BJP and JD(S). An analysis of election expenditure for last year's Lok Sabha elections conducted by the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) shows average election expenditure for a Congress candidate to be only Rs. 13.9 lakhs, BJP candidate to be only Rs. 12.7 lakhs and JD(S) as only Rs. 10.6 lakhs. In reality, political parties would have actually spent more than 10 times this declared expenditure.

Before introducing public funding, political parties and candidates should become transparent in disclosing their financial accounts and election expenditure. Election Commission guidelines on expenditure limits should be strictly enforced. Only then can India be a representative democracy where people from all classes of society can hope to be represented in Parliament and state legislatures.

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