Former Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) T S Krishnamurthy has pitched for state-funding of elections, and banning the use of funds by political parties for polls, as part of electoral reforms. He mooted creation of a national election fund to which companies and individuals can contribute. Krishnamurthy said originally he was not in favour of the state-funding of elections.”But seeing what’s happening these days in various places, I believe there should be a national election fund to which companies and individuals can contribute for which 100 per cent tax exemption should be given,” he told PTI. Such funds can be used for the state-funding of elections, Krishnamurthy said. “If there is a deficiency, of course the Central government will have to make good,” he said, adding that companies and individuals would prefer to contribute to such a fund, instead of the political parties, since they would get 100 per cent tax exemption.
The move would ensure that there is no nexus between corporates and political parties, Krishnamurthy said. “Of course, how to use the fund, there can be an all party meeting, they can decide how to use for various elections,” he said. Once a national election fund is set up, the use of funds by any political party for elections must be banned, he suggested. “I agree even then there can be payment by political parties; whenever it’s discovered it should be dealt with penalty of 10 years or whatever imprisonment for disqualification (of that candidate) in addition to 10 years imprisonment,” Krishnamurthy said. “We have to be very strict on those people who pay inspite of state-funding of elections. No party should be allowed to spend any money for elections,” he said.
According to him, there are lot of loopholes in law as now there is a ceiling on election expenditure only for candidates, and not for political parties. “Then there is cash expenditure which is incurred by friends, relatives; how do you get into that? There are looholes, that’s the reason why I have come to feel that no party should be allowed to receive funds, except by its own members, and no party should spend money on elections,” he said. “An election should be conducted by the funds collected under the national election fund by the election commission. It’s difficult to prove cash expenditure, there is no method of checking cash expenditure by political parties,” he said. He called for a separate law for political parties, framing proper regulation and overseeing and monitoring them including their internal elections and financial management.
Criminals should be disqualified if a charge sheet is framed by a court, not by police, in respect of offences punishable with five years and more of imprisonment, he said. One gets “wrong candidates” in electoral fray because muscle power and money power play an important role in the polls, Krishnamurthy said. “So, the best thing is if you remove funding of elections by political parties,” he said. “Secondly, you can have a provision of recall of representatives after 50 per cent of the tenure of the House is over — if the House tenure is five years, the elected person is allowed to peacefully work for two-and-a-half years, after that if a person is charged with heinous offences like murder, rape or corruption, such people…there must be a provision for a recall,” Krishnamurthy suggested. “Actually, recall by itself may not be a resolution but could be a deterrent. There will be some accountability on the part of the elected representatives to behave better,” he added.