A ceiling on party expenditure in campaigning, for which the Election Commission (EC) has been pressing political parties and the government, will see "the light of day in time to come", says Chief Election Commissioner O P Rawat.
A ceiling on party expenditure in campaigning, for which the Election Commission (EC) has been pressing political parties and the government, will see “the light of day in time to come”, says Chief Election Commissioner O P Rawat. Rawat, who demits office on Saturday, said his “only regret” as head of the poll panel is that the EC was unable to recommend to the Law Ministry a fresh “legal framework” in tune with the changing times vis-a-vis the use of money and social media. Sunil Arora will take over as the new chief election commissioner on Sunday. Responding to a question on transparency in funding of political parties, Rawat told PTI in an interview that it is “a long-term reform”. “… all political party meeting in August (this year) had recommended that there should be a ceiling on party expenditure and commensurately there should be transparency in funding. I think it will see the light of day in time to come,” he said.
Almost all parties agreed to a cap on expenditure, he added. The election watchdog has been pushing for greater transparency in election-related expenditure by parties and candidates. Like individuals, there should be a ceiling on expenditure by political parties during polls, according to the Election Commission, which has referred the matter to the Law Ministry for legislative action.
At present, there is a ceiling on campaigning funds for individual candidates in the electoral fray but no cap on the money political parties can spend for electioneering. The ceiling varies from state to state depending on its population and number of assembly or Lok Sabha seats. Asked on his ‘biggest regret’ as the CEC, Rawat said times are changing fast with money and social media playing a major role in electioneering. The Commission, he added, wanted to review the legal framework “comprehensively to align it to the emerging situation and futuristic needs”.
“So a committee was constituted which has reviewed the law and made recommendations. But the Commission did not get time to focus on these and make recommendations to the Law Ministry. That is the only regret I have,” he said. The back-to-back elections this year, “all delivered with total fairness”, are his biggest success as head of the poll panel, the outgoing CEC said.
He said the elections were incident free with Chhattisgarh recording 77 per cent turnout against the backdrop of threats by left-wing extremists who had been exploding improvised explosive devices and even chopping off fingers of people to instil fear. Rawat said the recently-launched C-Vigil mobile application had empowered the common man. “… 7,000 complaints and 100 per cent disposal. It has worked wonders,” he said.