Media News Archive

‘Hyd declaration’ for curbs on money power in politics

After the two-day deliberations on ‘Money power in politics— Indian democracy at work’ at ISB, a ‘Hyderabad declaration’ was released enlisting steps to curb money power in politics. The conference organised by Foundation for Democratic Reforms (FDR) along with ISB and University of Hydrabad stressed on the need to disincentivise and deglamourise electoral office.

FDR president Jayaprakash Narayan said: “In recent decades, there has been an enormous increase of funds in political activity amounting to hundreds of crores of rupees. Realtors, land mafia, owners of educational institutions and big contractors make direct entry to gain access to the government. After the two-day deliberations, we came up with the Hyderabad declaration.”

According to the declaration, a concerted campaign should be taken up by civil society groups, Election Commission and citizens concerned on the consequences of money flooding into politics. The declaration also says that there is a need to strengthen and enforce legislations on political party funding and expenditure.

“There is no perfect electoral system. All electoral models have strengths and weaknesses. In the Indian context, elected legislators taking control of the fate of the government and becoming defector executives has led to competitive bidding for votes. Increasingly, a system of gift-giving to voters has developed. This has led to a vicious cycle of corruption, abuse of power and plutocracy,” said the declaration The conference said a national-level conversation on alternative electoral models is the need of the hour. Election commissioner Ashok Lavasa said that some pending suggestions made to strengthen the Election Commission would help address loopholes. He said at many meetings held by MHA, they did not discuss about electoral offences. He said state governments should investigate and prosecute the cases.

Courtesy: The Times of India

Tuesday, January 14, 2020 - 05:41

Former CEC moots ‘national election fund'

‘Candidates end up spending 20 times more than the prescribed limit’ 

Hyderabad: Former Chief Election Commissioner of India T.S. Krishnamurthy suggested creating of ‘national election fund’ with 100% tax exemption to facilitate public funding of polls.

Chairing the plenary session on ‘Legitimate Campaign Expenditure in Indian politics’ at the first annual conference of ‘Indian Democracy at Work’ with the theme of ‘Money Power in Politics’ here on Thursday, he agreed with the views expressed that the limit for expenditure imposed by the Election Commission for Assembly and Lok Sabha constituencies could not be enforced. Candidates end up spending 20 times more than the prescribed limit, it was pointed out. 

He however asserted that the source of money to political parties should be strictly regulated and bearer bonds did not promote transparency and they could also allow foreign money to come to the parties. He felt cash contribution to political parities was dangerous and there would be limitations even for the administration to check them. 

On the suggestion of the Vice-President that simultaneous polls be held, he said it would require Constitution amendment. Reforms are not coming through as political parties want status quo to continue but unless the power of money is controlled, elections and democracy will not succeed in the country, he said.

Telangana State BJP president K. Laxman welcomed the suggestion for proportional representation to give seats to the political parties on the basis of their vote share rather than the ‘first past the post system’ which encourages rampant vote buying. Dr. Laxman said he was the victim of money power as he had lost by 200 votes in 2004 as he refused to buy votes. With advent of regional parties post globalisation, expenditure on elections went up enormously and role of caste, community and divisive politics increased. In 2019 elections, Rs.10,000 crore were spent by political parties in Andhra Pradesh and Rs.6,000 crore in Telangana. 

Mr. Konda Vishweshwar Reddy said laws to reign in election expenditure failed as only 10% of actual expenditure was legitimate expenditure while 90% of expenditure was illegitimate/black money. The system needs to be fixed to attract clean people, he said.

Natasha Jog, Election Integrity Lead, India, South Asia, Facebook said since 2016, thrice the number of people were deployed to work on elections issue to make Facebook platform safe. “We brought down 2.2 billion fake accounts to check misinformation, and transparency was being brought on political advertisements.”

Courtesy: The Hindu

Tuesday, January 14, 2020 - 05:34

Poll expenses must be checked

Ram Madhav supports plan for direct election of PM, CM

Hyderabad: Money is required for politics but it should not be illegitimate. It is also important to define ‘illegitimate’ election expenditure, said Election Commissioner of India Ashok Lavasa. 

Speaking at the plenary on “Illegitimate expenditure in Indian Politics”, he said that governments and political system alone should take the initiative for controlling expenditure in elections. Change for the better would happen fast when citizens adhered to social and moral values, he said. 

Mr. Lavasa admitted that a situation was prevailing where no one but ‘crorepatis’ would win the elections. Yet, the Election Commission beyond a point has no power to control the expenditure in elections. In the last election, ‘crorepatis’ accounted for 37% of MPs elected and this time, the number shot up to 87%. 

In a recent election in a State, it was proved that those who were awarded contracts a few months before the election gave large amount of donations. “A discussion on election expenditure should be held from various angles, including the campaign involving celebrities and media owned by political parties,” he said.

BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav said that they, in principle, supported the proposal for direct election of Mayor, Chief Minister and Prime Minister in the form of Presidential election. But without adopting the presidential form of institutions in other countries, a discussion should happen to suit conditions in our country. 

“Huge amounts of money were being spent because of lure for power vested in political posts. At present, power was centralised at the highest level instead of being vested with people. Delegation of powers to local governments alone would bring down the monopoly of MLAs and MPs,” he said.

FDR general secretary Jayaprakash Narayan, who chaired the session, said that parties and leaders could bring forth reforms to make democracy work better and meet people’s aspirations. 

“The Modi government has the wherewithal to bring in reforms for direct election of CM and PM, proportionate representation and decentralisation of power to local bodies and Mr. Ram Madhav should take initiative,” he said.

Courtesy: The Hindu

Tuesday, January 14, 2020 - 05:32

Conference on democracy stresses on political reforms

‘Hyderabad Declaration’ calls for reviewing the First Past the Post System and consider proportional representation 

The two-day national conference on “Indian Democracy At Work”, organised to look at the shortcomings in democracy, particularly the flood of big money into electoral politics, passed a declaration to work towards political reforms in a gradual manner to tackle the multi-dimensional problem, here on Friday.

At its concluding session, the “Hyderabad Declaration” called for reviewing the First Past the Post System (candidate who gets the highest number of votes in a constituency gets elected to the seat) and consider proportional representation in place of FPTP and also direct election of the executive. The alternative systems, if adopted, should be tailored to Indian conditions with adequate safeguards to ensure wider regional representations in national power structure to prevent division of polity on caste and regional lines and ensure stability of governments, it said.

The FPTP makes winning every seat critical for political parties and leaders, thereby compelling them to resort to populist promises, offering inducements to voters and resort to poll management strategies that are in violation of the democratic spirit.

A national dialogue on alternative electoral models — clear separation of powers of the executive and legislature and direct election of the executive should be considered seriously, the Declaration said.

Organised by the Foundation for Democratic Reforms (FDR) in association with Indian School of Business (ISB) and University of Hyderabad (UoH), the conference was inaugurated by Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu and attended by people from various walks of life — political leaders and members of civil society organisations, civil servants, academicians, media personnel, social activists and businessmen.

Participants deliberated on the negative impact of illegitimate money power in politics and raised concern that it could undermine the very objective of democracy to work for all sections of people and give them a better life. 

They endorsed that a robust legal framework was needed to ensure democratic functioning of political parties and regulate flow of money into the political sphere. A legislation should be brought to make parties choose their office-bearers through periodical organisational election and selection of candidates for public office through a transparent and democratic process.

Parties should be made to declare in time their annual income and expenditure and disclose sources of funding. Policy measures should be in place to enable political parties to raise and receive necessary funding in a transparent manner so that all parties have minimum financial support to carry out party activities and compete in elections.

Courtesy: The Hindu

Tuesday, January 14, 2020 - 05:27