New Delhi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday broached the possibility of State funding of elections in India, while addressing an all-party meeting on the eve of the winter session of Parliament.

This call for State funding has to be seen in the context of the ongoing debate on fighting corruption, highlighted by the government’s move to demonetise 500 and 1000 rupee bank notes in a bid to curb black money.

The government is also considering a crackdown on benami properties.

It is a well accepted fact that election spending is the fount of black money in India.

Though there are no hard numbers, federal and state elections and urban and rural local body polls see candidates and parties spending huge amounts of cash, much of it unaccounted money, in a bid to get elected. They try and recoup this money many times over during their terms in office.

The Association of Democratic Reforms has worked in the area of electoral and political reforms, including corruption and criminalisation of the election process and the need for greater accountability of political parties.

Trilochan Sastry, the founder of ADR and a professor at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, spoke to News18 about the development.

Prof Sastry said that while ADR welcomes the move it should also be accompanied by regulation of excessive spending on elections.

While State funding may cut out the black money component, candidates who take the cash may also supplement it with their own money, which may be black money.

State funding may also enable outsiders to the party-political system, who are currently daunted by the criminalisation of electoral funding, to contest polls.

“Many people are unable to join politics because of this and State funding could enable them to,” he told News18.

Professor Sastry said that in instances where excessive spending was found, elections must be countermanded and candidates must be debarred. Effective implementation of this would go a step in cleaning up elections.

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