Funding to parties may come under CAG scanner

Assembly polls: EC plans norms to check paid news menace

The commission, which wants all such transactions to be done through cheques and demand drafts and audited by those in the CAG list, will take up the matter with all the political parties soon, sources  said.

“There should be complete transparency in political funding. Payment should be made (to political parties) through cheques and demand drafts. The audit of such transactions should be done by those approved by the CAG,” Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi said on Wednesday.

The issue of auditing of funding to political parties has gain ground following demands from the parties to retrieve black money stashed in foreign banks.

The stashing away of black money got further credence with WikiLeaks claiming that Indians are the largest account holders in foreign banks. Quraishi said the commission held a meeting with the Institute of Charted Accountants of India (ICAI) and discussed the issue. “I suggested them that they should not be wishy washy in auditing,”  he said.

The CEC said the issue of  “paid news” continues to be a big problem in the country.
Taking serious note of the fact that many channels in the country are owned by political parties, Quraishi said there were instances when they were used for airing favourable news item during the Assembly polls. The commission is in process of evolving a guideline to check such practice from the next election.  “We will have some policy (to check such malpractice) before next election,” Quraishi said.

The results of the Assembly polls in four states and a Union territory are expected by Friday noon when the counting of votes would start at 839 counting halls spread over Assam, Kerala, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal. An elaborate three tier security arrangement has been put in place for the exercise, which would start at 8 am involving 43,982 officials and nearly 17,700 central security personnel keeping vigil, he said, adding the entire exercise would be videographed to prevent any malpractice.

Quraishi said a total of 14.16 crore voters exercised their franchise which was 20 per cent of the total 72.8 crore electorate. Assam saw a voter turnout of 76.04 per cent, an increase of 0.36 per cent over the 2006 Assembly polls and Kerala 75.12 per cent, a jump of 3.79 per cent and Puducherry 85.57 per cent, an increase of  0.13 per cent.

Tamil Nadu and West Bengal witnessed the “highest turnout in history” of 78.80 per cent and 84.46 per cent respectively, an increase of 11.26 per cent and 3.04 per cent over the 2006 Assembly polls, he said.

Except Assam, women came out in large numbers to exercise their franchise in Kerala, Puducherry, West Bengal, he added.

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