Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) national president Ramvilas Paswan has weighed in favour of total disclosure of political donations, two days after prime minister Narendra Modi backed the election commission’s recommendation to cap anonymous donations at Rs 2,000. The Union minister also wants the Commission to take measures to pay “establishment cost” to parties.
“Why to cap it at even Rs 2,000? Parties should declare all donors. If possible, all donations should be made through cheques,” the LJP leader told HT. Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar has echoed similar views saying that parties must reveal who has given them “one rupee or Rs 10”.
Under Section 29 (c) of the Representation of the People Act, parties must declare contributions “in excess of” Rs 20,000 from any person or companies to the election commission annually. This provision left scope for black money to get into the political system, as parties don’t have to declare donations below this threshold. The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) says it hasn’t received any donations above Rs 20,000 in the past decade.
Paswan said that the EC should “make provisions” to pay political parties what it takes to run their party offices—staff salaries, paper, et al. Most of the political parties have maintained a studied silence on the issue of lowering the cap on anonymous donations.
The EC recently made public a compendium of its suggestions and recommendations to the government of India in the past 10 years. These reports, gathering dust for a decade, seem to have gained currency post-demonetization.
Paswan defended the NDA government’s decision last month to recall Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 bills, a move that has brought flak to the NDA government on account of poor implementation. “It is a step in the right direction although people are facing some inconvenience. But people face problems even when you build a flyover. No one is demonetization per se,” he said.