Political parties opposed on Saturday a proposal that candidates disclose their source of income before contesting polls, one of several ideas floated by the Election Commission to clean up the country’s electoral process.
In a closed-door consultation with 35 political parties including the BJP and the Congress over a slew of proposed electoral reforms, the Commission has also sought to hike the security deposit for contesting elections as a deterrent for non-serious candidates. It proposed to extend the existing ban on physical campaigning to advertisements and campaign in electronic media as well in the last 48 hours before polling.
While most of the proposals evoked lukewarm response from the political parties, they all agreed to the Commission’s plan to introduce a software that helps candidates to manage their election expenses.
None of these proposals are to be implemented in the upcoming assembly elections in four states, EC officials clarified.
The political parties were most vocal against the EC’s proposal to introduce a new column in the affidavit where the candidates will have to disclose from where they earned money and how they procured properties mentioned in their declared assets.
CPI(M)’s Nilotpal Basu, who attended the meeting, told HT, “If the EC wants, they can scrutinize income tax returns of candidates. Why should he or she file it again?”
The EC sought the opinion of different parties to introduce a “totaliser machine” that will club the votes casted in the EVMs of 5-6 polling booths before the counting starts. While this step is to prevent parties or authorities to know the pattern of voting in one particular booth-or area—parties asked the Commission not to implement it in a hurry but to start some pilot projects.
In another move, the EC sought to ban the current system of allowing political parties to maintain a booth office 200 meters away from a polling station. The Commission argued that nowadays, it distributes the voter slips and so there is no need for parties to open camps for voter assistance on the polling day.
“There is a need to have wider discussion on proportional representation and system and on how to ensure a level playing field for all. The EC must look at these issues,” CPI’s D Raja said after the meeting.
While all parties agreed to the EC’s call to “maintain high standard in poll campaign” and “enhance electoral integrity”, they wanted to know how the EC plans to ensure such “utopian” plans.