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'All political parties work on black money'

July 17, 2017 09:50 IST

'The idea of issuing electoral bonds should be scrapped and all political parties should be brought under the purview of the RTI Act'

'This government says one thing and does another. Its action is completely against transparency'

 

Jagdish Chhokar, founder-member of the Association for Democratic Reforms and former professor at Indian Institute of Management, says there should be a law to regulate the functioning of political parties.

In an interview to Sahil Makkar, he says the government must scrap the idea of floating electoral bonds as it reduces transparency in political funding. 

On his last day in office, former Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi expressed reservations about political funding. What are your views?

The budget speech and post-budget briefings suggested that electoral bonds would reduce transparency and increase opacity in political funding.

The scheme is formulated to hide the identity of the donor.

The idea of issuing bonds should be scrapped and all political parties should be brought under the purview of the Right to Information Act according to the direction of Central Information Commission.

They must disclose all sources of donations and provide expenditure details. The series of steps undertaken by the government don’t indicate the intention of increasing transparency.

Why is the government moving in this direction despite reservation by the EC and others?

It is not just the government. All political parties work on black money and political funding is the fountainhead of corruption. They want to keep it opaque.

In the RTI case, not a single party was ready to disclose its source of funding.

The Supreme Court observed that the CEC be appointed by a collegium. Is it in the right spirit as no CEC has ever faced charges of bias?

It is progressive of the SC to ask for it.

The CEC must be appointed by a collegium comprising the prime minister, leader of the opposition and the Chief Justice of India.

The CEC is the key to democracy and his appointment should not be left to the whims and fancies of the ruling party.

In the past, some CECs have gone on to fight elections.

Former CEC T N Seshan fought the presidential election and former CEC M S Gill became member of Parliament and minister.

The CEC must be perceived as neutral and there should be a level-playing field.

Should the EC have the power to prosecute political parties and leaders? 

It is the frustration of the EC with political parties which is showing up.

Political parties can’t be allowed to make baseless allegations and tarnish the image of a constitutional body. They believe they are above the law.

It is not the job of the EC to keep defending itself from allegations. There must be a law to regulate political parties as suggested by the Law Commission in its reports of 1999 and 2015.

How do you read Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s statement about the government’s next big move on bringing transparency in political funding?

Jaitley said electoral bonds will keep the identity of the buyer anonymous.

Now they are speaking of transparency. This government says one thing and does another. Its action is completely against transparency.

Sahil Makkar
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