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Electoral bonds must ensure transparent political funding: Assocham

Assocham said the fine-prints of the electoral bonds scheme should be worked out in a manner to make it a credible tool of transparency in the election funding.

By: PTI | New Delhi |
February 7, 2017 5:52:59 pm
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The fine-print of the electoral bond scheme for donations to political parties by businesses and wealthy individuals should aim at maximising clean-up of the system and transparency in political funding, industry body Assocham said Tuesday. The chamber, however, supported protecting the identity of donors, contending that donor business houses, if identified, could be trapped in political rivalry.

“Reducing the political anonymous donations limit to Rs 2,000 from Rs 20,000 per individual may not be fool-proof but is certainly a step forward. Along with this, the other big move by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to bring in the electoral bonds is an out of box idea.

“While there is a popular pressure for full transparency and disclosure of names of both the donors and the receivers of the political funds, there is also a merit in the government contention about protecting the identity of the donors as their identification could lead to bigger problems,” Assocham Secretary General D S Rawat said.

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He said no industrial house would like to be identified whether it donated to one political party or the other. “This way, business houses could be trapped in political rivalry.”

In order to cleanse the political funding system and check blackmoney, Jaitley in Budget proposed to restrict cash donations to political parties from individuals to Rs 2,000 and introduced ‘electoral bonds’ scheme. The electoral bonds, which will be issued by notified banks, can be redeemed by recognised political parties within a prescribed time-limit.

Assocham said the fine-prints of the electoral bonds scheme should be worked out in a manner to make it a credible tool of transparency in the election funding.

Alongside, the “idea of state funding of elections should also be considered seriously….the industry which is committed to work for strengthening the Indian democracy would be happy to work with the Election Commission, government, political parties and the civil society to find a common solution.

The whole process should be aimed at reducing the money power in the electoral process so that well meaning people who do not have financial resources can also come forward and make a qualitative changes in the Indian policy, the chamber said.

It said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s suggestion of holding simultaneous elections for both the Lok Sabha and the state assemblies should also be considered seriously by all the political parties.

“Besides, exerting a lot of pressure on administrative machinery of security forces, bureaucracy, teachers, frequent elections in some state or the other leads to enforcing Election Commission Code of Conduct, delaying the developmental schemes, Assocham said.

It also leads to populist competitive politics that may not always be growth oriented, it said, adding that some of the schemes may yield immediate political dividend but could be detrimental for long-term gains.

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