The Hindu
New Delhi

Releasing their analysis of Income Tax returns filed and donations received by political parties, National Election Watch and the Association for Democratic Reforms have demanded regulations to govern the functioning of political parties and called on electoral trusts run by corporate firms to be operated transparently.

Professor Trilochan Sastry of IIM Bangalore and a founder-member of both organisations said though political parties were forbidden to accept funds from foreign sources, holding companies registered in the US or Britain were allegedly creating trusts in India and using this route to make donations. While noting that funding was important for political parties, Prof. Sastry said their only demand was that it should be transparent and people should know who is giving money to which party.

He said the Chief Election Commissioner has estimated that Rs.10,000 crore was spent in the U.P. Assembly elections held earlier this year, but the incomes declared by political parties, when added up, fell way short of this amount.

National Coordinator of Election Watch Anil Bairwal cited the Rs.573 crore collected by the Congress through sale of coupons in 2009-10 and 2010-11 as an example of non-transparent functioning. “What are these coupons? Coupons should be numbered. Counterfoils of coupons should be retained. A strict mechanism needs to be evolved as these are cash transactions. But none of parties are agreeing to these suggestions.”

Jagdeep Chhokar, a retired IIM Ahmedabad faculty member, said internal democracy and financial transparency were two major issues that political parties had to address to make themselves responsive and responsible.

Referring to the Bahujan Samaj Party, Prof. Chhokar wondered how a party with a Rs.172 crore income in the past two years did not receive even one donation over Rs.20,000. “Such miracles can happen only in India! The source of all scams and corruption in India is political funding. When we make political funding transparent, we can make a major dent in corruption.”

The activists called on the Election Commission to renew its efforts to get political parties to adopt professional standards in auditing and accounting funds received.

Meanwhile, the Congress and the BJP defended receiving donations from party workers and other sources.

While Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said the party would comment only after studying the report, one senior leader told PTI that there was nothing “illegal or unethical”.

BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said his party received funds from its workers through a “transparent system of fund collection”.

© Association for Democratic Reforms
Privacy And Terms Of Use
Donation Payment Method