India Reporter Live

With the EB debacle, new party finance guidelines are required

<p>Bravo to the public-spirited “accountability” NGOs, such as Common Cause and Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), who persevered in stopping the Electoral Bonds scam, and to the Supreme Court for recognizing the deceptive practices. The beneficiary and donors lists would have been meaningless if they had been made public after the elections.</p>
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<p>Even with his skill as a fireman and a lawyer, late finance minister Arun Jaitley will always be associated with this questionable plan. With the lofty goal of “ensuring clean tax-paid money is coming into the system,” it was established in 2018. However, the supreme court has found that this was just a front to legitimize opacity.</p>
<p>The first list of 12,155 crore electoral bonds (EBs) issued by the EC since 2018 reveals some intriguing trends out of the Rs 16,518 crore total acquired since 2018. Megha Engineering is the second-largest purchaser of EBs valued at Rs 966 crore. It has been awarded prestigious contracts such as the Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Project in Telangana and the Rs 14,400 crore Thane-Borivali Twin Tunnel Project. In exchange for what?</p>
<p>maybe the obscure Future Gaming? With EB purchases of Rs 1,368 crore, it is the largest buyer. Following searches by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in April 2022, it gave Rs 100 crore in equity bonds. Twisting your arms?</p>
<p>Democracies in the West</p>
<p>Political parties may accept contributions as long as the contributors’ identities are made public. Political parties are, after all, huge organizations with intricate networks and high overhead. In the United States, the reverse is true: a candidate’s strength is determined by the amount of money they are able to raise for their campaign.</p>
<p>The US Federal Election Commission (FEC) reports that as of last month, the combined fundraising total for all 2024 presidential contenders was $381 million.With $90 million, President Joe Biden led, with Republican opponent Donald Trump coming in second with $80 million.</p>
<p>Raising USD 36 million, Nikki Haley, the final candidate to withdraw from the Republican primary, did not do poorly.</p>
<p>Although the US has strong laws governing openness, when it comes to “dark” finance, it is hardly the model of democracy. Raising money privately is integrated into the system. While party organizations are permitted to raise up to $41,300, candidates are only permitted to raise up to $3,300 from private donors if the FEC is informed of the donor’s identity and employment.</p>
<p>While it is still illegal for businesses and lobby organizations to directly finance politicians, a slew of rulings by the US Supreme Court has allowed them to almost endlessly spend “soft money” via political action committees, or “Super PACs,” on things like advertising campaigns.</p>
<p>For example, in 2016, the National Rifle Association (NRA), a right-wing organization that supports firearms, invested $50 million to support Trump and his fellow Senate candidates. It is very hard to pass any significant gun control legislation in the US due to the NRA’s strong political influence.</p>
<p>The US presidential campaign of 2020 is believed to have cost $14 billion, making it the most costly election to date. The Brennen Center of Justice commented on how money power undermines democracy, stating that “ordinary Americans’ voices are being drowned out” and that “big money dominates U.S. political campaigns to a degree not seen in decades.”</p>
<p>In contrast, Germany has an advanced system in place that distributes public subsidies to political parties in the Bundestag or European Parliament that have received at least 0.5% of the vote. cash are distributed according to the strength of the party, with 0.83 euros going toward each legitimate vote and 0.45 euros going toward additional cash from sources like membership dues or authorized contributions.The origins, uses, and assets of the parties’ money must all be disclosed.</p>
<p>Public and corporate funds</p>
<p>With the EBs no longer in place, the Election Commission of India will need a new legislative framework in order to monitor political finance.The Supreme Court’s ruling that the electoral bond program was “unconstitutional” was primarily based on the violation of the “right to information.”Contributions from companies and advocacy organizations to political parties do no damage. However, make the source of the funding clear. It will give people a good idea of the objectives that the party will pursue.</p>
<p>One promising approach may be to combine corporate donations with public support, similar to the German system. Direct corporate sponsorship of political parties might lead to risky quid pro quo anomalies, but a controlled common corpus, from which political parties get income according to their performance, would be a practical solution.Several Indian corporations have tried this out with success.</p>
<p>There is a vast chasm between the rulebook and reality in our corrupt democracy.Depending on the size of the state, individual Lok Sabha candidates may now spend up to Rs 95 lakh.</p>
<p>The anticipated cost of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections is Rs 60,000 crore. This amounts to almost Rs 500 crore on average for each of the 543 seats that had elections. The whole cost of the next elections would be more than Rs 1 lakh crore.Then there are the hidden expenses that occur before and after elections, such as orchestrating defections.</p>
<p>Numerous expenses will go unnoticed and could never be made public. But let there be a clear rule of conduct for the little realm of institutional finance.</p>

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