Money power in elections is biggest problem: former CEC
Lack of transparency in political funding and use of unaccounted money in elections are the root causes of corruption in India and they need to be addressed urgently, former chief election commissioner S Y Quraishi said.
New Delhi: Lack of transparency in political funding and use of unaccounted money in elections are the root causes of corruption in India and they need to be addressed urgently, former chief election commissioner S Y Quraishi said today.
Quraishi, who as CEC oversaw several elections including the 2009 general elections, said making funding of political parties transparent was an important objective that needs to be achieved if the political-corporate nexus is to be done away with.
Delivering a lecture on the issue of electoral reforms at Jamia Milia Islamia here, Quraishi said besides money power in elections, the presence of a large number of candidates having criminal background is also a major problem.
"Money power in elections is one of the biggest sources of corruption in the country and although there is a legal limit to expenditure, we know anecdotally that much above the limit is often spent.
"That is why we want that funding should be made transparent and should be made by cheques and parties'
accounts should be audited and put in public domain," he said.
He said this would help people know which corporate house gave money to which party and if in future a government favours a particular corporate, the "nexus" will be clear.
He also suggested that candidates with a background of heinous offences should be barred from contesting elections to clean the political arena.
"We had suggested that those candidates be debarred who are charged with heinous offences, those who are facing charges framed by a court of law, and the case should have been registered at least six months before an election," he said.
However, he said political parties oppose this suggestion as they contend that many charges are motivated and false.
Interacting with students, the former CEC also said that ensuring a higher turnout rather than encouraging negative voting was a better way to make sure good candidates win.
"I have spoken to people like Kiran Bedi also on the issue of the 'none of the above' option on a ballot sheet. But I personally feel that such negative approach would not help.
"At the most, it would necessitate another election. The solution is to vote for better candidates and ensure higher turnouts," he said.
He also dismissed as unpractical ideas to make voting compulsory, as this would thrust an unmanageable burden on the judiciary.
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She said that since the NGO trustees had passed a resolution directing her to travel strictly as per invite, there was no room for discretion.
Bedi clarified that the Trustees were of the view that she need not save money for the NGO in this way.