In a fresh attempt to curb money power in the elections, the law ministry has proposed that the government fund women and scheduled caste and tribe candidates of recognised political parties.
Law minister M Veerappa Moily recommended in a draft cabinet note circulated to various ministries that to get this benefit, candidates should not have an annual income of more than R5 lakh and movable or immovable property worth more than R22 lakh.The note also made it clear that this limit would also include the income and assets of the candidates’ spouses. "The income and assets of both the spouses will be calculated and taken together."
“This proposal, applicable to the recognised national and state-level political parties, will bring transparency and put a check on the inflow of unaccounted money into elections,” the ministry note said.
Besides, the ministry said this would become an incentive to political parties for fielding more SC/ST and women candidates of marginalised sections and prepare the ground for the women's reservation bill.
The ministry pointed out that the Election Commission (EC) was earlier not in favour of this idea given the lack of unanimity among the political parties.
But during seven regional consultations in recent months, the ministry said, “a consensus has emerged to check inflow of unaccounted money” in elections.
In February, the ministry hiked — on EC’s recommendations — the spending limit for a Lok Sabha candidate from R25 lakh to R40 lakh and for assembly constituencies in big states from R10 lakh to R16 lakh.
In the latest proposal, the law ministry has not fixed any particular amount to be given to the candidates eligible for state funding, saying, “At this stage, it is not feasible to give the financial implications, which will depend on the number of candidates to be fielded by the political parties.”