Rejecting the Election Commission's suggestions on transparency and accountability in poll funding, the Congress party has expressed its inability to issue receipts to all persons or companies making donations to it for elections as it "neither practical nor possible".
In a communication to the EC, the ruling party said it is also "difficult" to implement suggestions that all expenses or donations above Rs 20,000 be made through crossed cheques or bank transfer. The ruling party has rejected all ten suggestions made by the poll body on issue of guidelines for transparency in party funding.
The party, in its response, has said that "only if a consensus emerges" the EC may suggest to the Central government to make appropriate amendments in the Representation of the People Act, 1951, and to frame rules to make the process of accounting of poll expenses more transparent.
To a suggestion to keep the party funds so collected in a bank account within a reasonable time frame, the Congress has said that it should be left to the parties to decide whether to deposit funds in banks or keep it in the party office.
"It should be left to the party to decide whether they want to deposit it in a bank or to keep it in its office premises or use it for party purposes directly," Congress treasurer Motilal Vora said in the letter.
To another suggestion, he said, "The manner and method of disbursing party funds for meeting election campaign expenses is again outside the statutory provisions of the RPA, 1951.
From a practical standpoint, it may not be possible that all election campaign expenses are disbursed only by crossed account payee cheques or draft or RTGS or NEFT or internet transfer."
While a majority of parties including the Bharatiya Janata Party are yet to respond to the EC suggestions for framing of guidelines to bring transparency in poll funding, only 11 have submitted their views.
The BJP and the Aam Aadmi Party have also called for uniformity in EC instructions alleging that their workers were being harassed in the name of implementing the model code.
Commission officials said at the DEO's office, the additional commissioner of police of the district will act as the nodal officer for granting all kinds of permissions. A number of political parties expressed deep disappointment over rates fixed by the commission for calculating expenditure by the candidates.
"This is a serious issue. We complained about the rates fixed by the Commission. As for example the rates fixed for tea and some other items are too high," said Congress representative Kuwar Karan Singh.
The parties said as per the guidelines issued by the commission, the rates of items were required to be finalized in consultation with them and complained that the exercise was not carried out by the DEOs.
Following this, the EC said it will come out with a response on the matter soon.
Zutshi said that there were queries by the parties about expenditure incurred by them before filing of the nominations. "They wanted to know whether the money spent before filing of nomination will go to party's account or to the candidate concerned. We have clarified that expenditure by the candidate will be accounted from the day notification for the election is issued," he said.
Till the notification is issued, all expenditure incurred will go into party's account. The gazette notification for the December 4 polls will be issued on November 9. The expenditure ceiling for the candidates have been fixed at Rs 14 lakh. There were further queries about defacement act and putting posters on back of the autorickshaws and on private properties to which the Commission told the parties that it will come out with a list of all the do's and don't's soon.
"We will list out all the do's and don'ts and put them in the website and also circulate a copy among all political parties so that everyone whether the political parties or implementers or election machinery are all aware of the same rules and conditions and there is a uniformity at all levels," Zutshi said.