The election commission (EC) wants the government to raise the limit on the expenditure of candidates in parliamentary and assembly polls to curtail the influence of “money power” in politics.
Chief election commissioner SY Qureshi said on Saturday the EC has recommended that the limit per candidate be raised from Rs25 lakh to Rs40 lakh for Lok Sabha elections and from Rs10 lakh to Rs16 lakh for assembly elections.
The move, he said, would allow candidates to overcome inflation and meet election expenses within official limits.
“This would not in itself root out money power from the electoral process, but the commission is committed to fight this evil that is corrupting free and fair elections,” Quraishi told media persons at the 7th National Conference on Electoral and Political Reforms in Chennai.
Money power in elections leads to tainted governance and undermines the rule of law, besides denying a level-playing field to all the candidates in the fray, he said.
The conference was organised by National Election Watch, an association of 1,200 non-governmental organisations from around the country.
Quraishi said he also favoured a ban on opinion polls before elections as they confuse voters. When there can be paid news, there could also be paid opinion polls that would favour some political parties, he said.
He also said 48 hours prior to the elections should be considered as a “silent period” when even door-to-door canvassing should be avoided.
The EC has asked the income tax department to keep an eye on the election expenditure of political parties and candidates contesting in the upcoming assembly polls of Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry.
“Excise and customs officials and flying squads will also be kept ready to check any malpractices,” said PK Dash, director general, expenditure, EC.
(With agency inputs)