Free Press Journal

Parties divided over EC move for transparency in funding


New Delhi: Political parties are a divided lot as regards their stand over the Election Commission’s move to bring in transparency and accountability in their funding with Congress having opposed the proposal and BJP failing to give its response to the issue.

EC had sought the views of political parties on the issue of bringing more transparency into the way they received and spent funds. The EC move is aimed at curbing the use of black money in election campaigning.

EC has proposed that the parties provide a receipt both for donations into and payments out of their coffers of Rs 20,000 or above. It has also suggested that any payments be made by the parties through either cheque or internet banking.

While Congress had rejected most of the suggestions, BJP failed to send its reply within the stipulated time, according to an RTI query filed by Rama Nath Jha, Director of Transparency International India.

However, senior BJP functionaries have said that they will offer their views on the matter at the forthcoming all-party meet which has been convened by EC on February 4.

In the Congress response, party Treasurer Motilal Vora has rejected the proposal saying it was “neither practical nor possible” to implement. He said it would not be possible for Congress to issue receipts to all persons or companies making donations.

“It is neither practical nor possible in a fluid situation in the midst of an election campaign to issue receipts to each individual making donations,” he said in the letter dated October 15, 2013.

Other parties like CPI, CPI-M and Akali Dal had agreed to the EC proposal on transparency and receipt for transactions above Rs 20,000, but Samajwadi Party toed the Congress line saying that the proposal “seems impractical”.

Samajwadi Party National General Secretary Prof Ram Gopal Yadav told EC that, “Regarding depositing of all donations or contributions received by the party in bank accounts within a reasonable time, we feel that these funds… may be required to meet the day-to-day expenses of the party.

“As such, first depositing the money and subsequently withdrawing it will lead to unnecessary accounting transactions.”

Yadav said that the suggestion that all transactions above Rs 20,000 should be done through cheques, drafts, Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) and National Electronic Funds Transfer (NEFT), or transfer entries, was impractical given that not all places had banking/internet facilities.

SP also wanted the Rs 20,000 ceiling to be  increased, for which it has cited the depreciating value of the Rupee.

Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has expressed difficulty in studying the EC suggestions. BSP General Secretary Satish Chandra Mishra had sought an all-party meet on the issue and may put forth the party’s views at the February 4 discussions.

CPI-M has agreed to the EC proposal, but with certain riders.

Nationalist Congress Party, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, Shiromani Akali Dal, Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam, Indian Union Muslim League, Sikkim Democratic Front, CPI and DMK, however, have agreed to most of EC’s suggestions.

All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) has partially agreed to some of the points in EC’s proposal.

“Considering the enormous number of members in the party, it will be practically impossible to track cash receipts exceeding Rs 20,000 from a single person in a financial year.

“There are no separate ledger accounts for tracking the receipts from each of the donors. In such circumstances, the proposal is impracticable for political parties to follow,” party chief J Jayalalithaa had said in a September 28, 2013 letter.

The Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress has said that it has made a note of EC’s suggestions.
EC had on August 30, 2013, written to all recognised political parties seeking within a month’s time their comments on a 10-point list of suggestions regarding the framing of guidelines for transparency and accountability in funding.