VP pitches for measures to check money power

VP pitches for measures to check money power

PTI file photo

Expressing concern over rising money power in politics, Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu on Thursday pitched for effective measures, including bold electoral reforms and fixing the governance system.

Addressing a conference here on Indian Democracy at Work - Money Power in Politics, he favoured simultaneous assembly and Parliamentary polls and also said political parties should not shy away from financial accountability vis-a-vis their source of funding.

"I hope that before we begin to celebrate the 75th anniversary of our Independence in 2022, some effective measures would be put in place to checkmate the role of money power in our polity", he said.

Observing that money power cannot be controlled by the Election Commission alone, he said political parties, civil society, corporate and organisations working for electoral reforms have a larger role to play. More importantly, the citizen-voter should take the lead in preventing abuse of money power and realise selling votes for a few thousand rupees was the highest form of moral compromise that militates against democratic ethics, Naidu said. We need to fix the governance system along with bold electoral reforms in order to break the vicious cycle of corruption and erosion of the quality of our democratic polity, he said.

Naidu said it was a reality that a millionaire has much better chances of becoming an MP or an MLA at the cost of an honest and more deserving low-income citizen. The Vice-President said political parties should adhere to the code of conduct with regard to their source of funding, expenditure on political training of cadres and funding of elections and candidates among others.

Political parties of the world's largest democracy should not shy away from being financially accountable as it would enhance the transparency of our democratic polity, he said. He also urged political parties to consider the option of simultaneous polls to Parliament, legislatures and local bodies and evolve a consensus as it would help bring down the cost and also provide space to the government to think about long term measures.

"You will not be compelled to be populist for every six months...," he added. Naidu opined state funding of elections was not a practical and feasible solution and it would only add to expenditure.

Expressing concern over populist promises being made by political parties without taking into consideration the availability of finances, he asked if a legislation like the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act can be brought to address the issue. The two-day conference is being co-organised by Foundation for Democratic Reforms, Indian School of Business (ISB), Bharti Institute of Public Policy and University of Hyderabad.

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