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CEC too backs Rahul idea

delhi Updated: Sep 02, 2011 02:00 IST
Chetan Chauhan

Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi's suggestion that Lokpal should be a Constitutional body like Election Commission and elections should be state funded has got support of chief election commissioner S Y Quraishi.

"It is true that the EC has been an effective body because of the Constitutional status bestowed on it," Quraishi told HT, when asked about Gandhi's suggestions in Parliament last Friday. "Only then the Lokpal can be as autonomous as EC".

Such a status, he felt, would empower the Lokpal in effective discharge of its duties just like the commission, which has ably conducted elections in the last six decades.

Quraishi found Gandhi's idea on state funding of elections as a "useful" and suggested that it can be implemented if the Mizoram model of campaign was adopted.

In Mizoram, the civil society through the tribal councils allows candidates only door-to-door campaign and a public meeting where all candidates are allowed to speak. No other expense to solicit votes is allowed.

The CEC described elections in Mizoram as most peaceful without excessive use of white or black money. "It may be an interesting model to consider for funding of elections by the state," he said.

In December 2010, the commission had rejected proposal of state funding. "The Election Commission is not in favour of state funding as it will not be possible to prohibit or check candidate's own expenditure or expenditure by others over and above which is provided by the state," a government's paper on electoral reforms quoting the commission said.

The issue of state funding was first mooted in 1998 when Indrajit Gupta committee suggested that the government should fund political parties to provide level playing field for parties having meagre resources.

A year later, the Law Commission welcome Gupta's suggestion and said that political parties should be debarred from raising funds from any other source. The second Administrative Reforms Commission in 2006 said state funding would reduce the scope of illegitimate and unnecessary funding of expenditure for elections.

Agreeing that the issue was being debated for years Quraishi said the influence of money since then has increased manifold and the suggestion needs to be examined in light of the recent evidence of use of black money. "We seized over Rs 60 crore just in Tamil Nadu assembly elections," he said and hoped that the Parliament will discuss the issue in depth and come up with an effective solution.

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