A day after the Election Commission released a proposed proforma for political parties to detail their electoral promises and disclose how they intend to fund them, law minister Kiren Rijiju said on Wednesday that the government is in talks with the poll watchdog and is considering legislative support for “major electoral reforms” through amendments to the Representation of the People Act (RP Act).
The law minister told the Times of India that the “changing time and situation” necessitates a review of some electoral laws that fail to ensure adequate transparency and accountability.
When asked if the election watchdog had consulted the government before making recent proposals, Rijiju said, “I am already having elaborate discussions with the EC to study major changes in the RP Act and other election rules. The Centre will take steps after due consultation for major electoral reforms which are required as per the new changing time and situation.”
To reduce the use of black money in elections, the EC recently requested that the RP Act be amended to limit cash donations received by parties to 20% of their total receipts. It also proposed lowering the disclosure limit for anonymous donations from 20,000 to 2,000 rupees. Despite receiving crores in political donations, the BSP has always claimed nil individual donations above Rs 20,000, allowing it to avoid naming the contributors.
According to the law minister’s remarks, the government and the EC have been working closely on bringing wide-ranging electoral reforms, as well as amendments to the RP Act to give these changes the necessary legislative backing, the report said. The EC’s proposal that parties disclose how they intend to fund their election promises has been met with criticism from opposition parties, who claim that this is beyond the poll panel’s purview. Congress referred to it as “yet another nail in the coffin of democracy,” claiming that “none of the social development schemes would have ever become a reality if such a bureaucratic approach had been in place.”
With inputs from News18