Political funding: CEC Nasim Zaidi warns parties not to avoid Rs 2000 cap

By: | Published: March 10, 2017 8:03 PM

Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi on Friday warned all political parties and said that strict action against them will be taken if they try to avoid the Rs 2000 cap.

Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi (PTI)

Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Nasim Zaidi on Friday warned all political parties and said that strict action against them will be taken if they try to avoid the Rs 2000 cap. Because of election commission’s vision of cashless funding as the ultimate goal to stem the use of black money in elections, it had lowered the cap on anonymous donations to political parties to Rs 2,000 from Rs 20,000 per person. Zaidi said, “Ultimately the whole society is saying funding to political parties should be cashless. That is the desirable ultimate.”

Zaidi also warned that if parties try to sidestep proposed changes in election and income tax laws by taking advantage of any loophole, they will be dealt with accordingly. Though when asked about the possibility of parties finding loopholes to circumvent the Rs 2,000 cap, the head of the country’s poll watchdog said that he is not saying that such a situation cannot arise. But at least to some extent transparency will increase and anonymity will come down.

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When an expert suggested that efforts should be made to make donations to political parties totally cashless to usher in more transparency, Zaidi said that the commission has not started correspondence with political parties on the issue so far as many other factors will have to be kept in mind. Also, admitting that many political parties depend on cash donations of small amounts, Zaidi said, “We have to look at the availability of infrastructure for digital transactions. Will it be available in the villages. I am not ruling it out. This should be the ultimate goal.”

Zaidi maintained that the decision to reduce the cap on anonymous donations to political parties from Rs 20,000 to Rs 2,000 per person will help increase transparency. He also added that the commission will continue to pursue major electoral reforms such as use of ‘totalisers’, power to countermand polls on charges of use of money power, having multiple cut-off dates for 18-year-olds to register as voters, making bribery of voters a cognisable offense, transparency of political funding and paid news. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley proposed this in the Budget 2017 and said that political parties will be entitled to receive donations by cheque or digital mode from their donors. And this is being done to cleanse the electoral system of black money.

(With inputs from agencies)

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