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'State funding of polls' back in focus

The proposal for partial state funding of elections is still on track, reports Aloke Tikku.

india Updated: May 16, 2007 23:03 IST
Aloke Tikku
Aloke Tikku
Hindustan Times

There was no consensus on the proposal for partial state funding of elections in India at the all-party meeting last year but the plan is still on track.

The law ministry is returning to the Union Cabinet on Thursday to seek approval for extending consultations for partial financing, in kind, of elections. The government is also expected to take a view on whether it should further examine the suggestion that private television news channels should – on lines of Prasar Bharti – give proportionate air time to political parties.

A joint committee of Parliament mooted the concept of state funding in the 1970s. The Dinesh Goswami committee backed the idea in the first half of nineties that again found support from a committee of MPs headed by Indrajit Gupta in 1998 and the Law Commission the next year.

One proposal of the Gupta committee that the government is still looking at is the creation of a separate election fund, financed by annual contributions from the central and state governments. Nearly half-a-dozen states had opposed provisions requiring them to contribute Rs 10 per elector of the state.

Consensus had eluded an all-party meeting held in February 2006 on creation of the fund. Most political parties were open to the idea of 50:50 sharing of corpus fund between the Centre and the States; some regional parties, however, wanted the Centre's share to be enhanced to 75 per cent.

Four months later, in June 2006, the government went ahead to adopt a uniform policy for allotment of land to political parties as a step towards state financing. There are six recognised national political parties; 44 recognised regional parties.

The Union Cabinet is also expected to focus on the follow-up measures taken by the government on the recommendations made by the Sachar Committee that reported on the social, economic and educational status of Muslims. The government is also expected to give a formal approval to the ministry of minority affairs decision to expand the number of districts to be treated as those having sizeable populations of minorities.

In its report submitted to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in November last year, the panel headed by retired Justice Rajinder Sachar had called for path-breaking efforts to bring Muslims to the mainstream.

First Published: May 16, 2007 22:32 IST