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Congress calls for all-party meeting on electoral reforms

The Congress party on Thursday called for an all-party meeting on electoral reforms by forming a committee and also demanded that a political funding bill be brought and debated extensively in Parliament.

“The Rajya Sabha has already conducted a very detailed discussion on electoral reforms when numerous other measures were brought.

“The measures were regarding partial proportionate representation as part of the budget speech. I gave concrete proposal on public or state funding of election,” said Congress spokesperson Rajeev Gowda.

“Numerous such proposals need to be examined. The time has come for cleaner and transparent political funding and for all these measures to be discussed, debated, analysed and then crystallised in the form of transparent political funding bill that is brought in, debated and voted on in both Houses of Parliament, subject to scrutiny by the appropriate Standing Committee,” he added.

Gowda also said: “With the amendment, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has brought in, the limits on corporate funding and corporate donations have been removed.”

“With the new introduction of the electoral bonds where donations can be made through cheques, corporates can also buy these electoral bonds in designated banks and give those bonds anonymously to political parties,” he said.

Gowda added: “You have now created a situation where you open the floodgates for corporate donations and corporate take-overs of political parties.

“You have gotten rid of that disclosure that until now allowed the people of India and anyone else concerned about public policy to see which party received money from which corporate and from which individual and to infer what policy outcome was influenced by which lobby.”

He also said: “A nudge here, a wink there and more than that arm-twist somewhere else will result in the coffers of the BJP and the ruling party overflowing with electoral bonds.”

“We have a very, very sad and negative development in the direction of election funding and transparency.

“These measures were brought in without extensive consultation, intensive consultation with all political parties and it is time that the Finance Minister and the Prime Minister put together a committee, bring together an all-party meeting and the set of meetings which are focused on electoral reforms,” said Gowda.

“Let us move this process further in the manner which has been enshrined in the Constitution bringing both Houses to bear on the debate,” he said.

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