EC holds meet on new limit over parties' poll expenses

EC holds meet on new limit over parties' poll expenses

Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) O P Rawat. (PTI file photo)

The Election Commission on Monday started a consultation with all political parties on the proposal to cap expenses made by them during polls – in addition to the existing limit on spending by the individual candidates in the fray.

Chief Election Commissioner, O P Rawat, and the two other Election Commissioners -- Sunil Arora and Ashok Lavasa -- are holding a meeting with the representatives of the registered national political parties and the state parties at the Nirvachan Sadan in New Delhi. The meeting is being held ahead of the Assembly polls in a number of states over the next few months as well as the parliamentary elections, which is likely to take place in April-May next year.

The Congress, Trinamool Congress and some other Opposition parties are likely to again question the credibility of the Electronic Voting Machines during the meeting.

The EC already proposed to the Law Commission that the Representation of People Act, 1951, and the Rule 90 of the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961 should be amended to cap the expenditure made by the political parties during the polls. Such limits are at present applicable only on expenditures made by the candidates individually. The EC proposed that the limit for the political parties should be fixed at 50% or not more than the limits applicable for the individual candidate's limits multiplied by the number of candidates fielded by each of them.

The EC stated that it would also seek the views of the political parties on measures to improve “accuracy, transparency and inclusivity” of the electoral rolls.

The Congress has been complaining about large-scale irregularities in the electoral roll in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. The chiefs of the party's state units in the three states – Kamal Nath, Sachin Pilot and Bhupesh Baghel – of late moved the Supreme Court.

The apex court issued a notice to the EC on Thursday, asking for its response to the Congress' allegation about the rolls of the electors in all the three states having a large number of fake and duplicate entries.

The Congress is the principal challenger to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in all the three states, which will go to polls later this year along with Mizoram.

The EC will also seek views on enhancing representation of women in the organisational structures of the political parties as well as in the role of candidates they would nominate to contest the elections to the state assemblies and the Lok Sabha.

Discussion on enforcement measures to ensure timely submission of annual audited reports, election expenditure reports are also on the agenda of the meeting scheduled on Monday.

The EC will also discuss with political parties inclusion of print media within the ambit of section 126(1)(b) of the Representation of People Act 1951 and the issue of online canvassing to promote or prejudice the electoral prospects of a party or a candidate on social media during the last 48 hours before conclusion of polling, the poll-panel said on Friday.

The other issues to be discussed included alternative modes of voting for domestic migrants and absentee voters, views and feedback of political parties regarding the operation of the Electronic Transmission of Postal Ballot Scheme as well as on efforts to encourage electoral participation of voters with disabilities.

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