New Delhi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi kicked off the debate on campaign finance reforms on Monday by saying he welcomed the recommendations of the Election Commission. Experts say that a discussion on reforms displays political will, nothing can be finalised unless the law changes.

“Until the law is changed in Parliament, such rhetoric is of no value. A lot of EC’s recommendations have come and gone,” said (Retd) Maj Gen Anil Verma, national coordinator at the Association for Democratic Reforms, a non-profit organisation working on electoral reforms.

Here are what the EC’s recommendations are, what it will take to bring this into practice and other frequently asked questions (FAQs) on the issue.

What are the recommendations?

a. Cap anonymous cash contributions at Rs2,000.

b. Ban income tax exemption for political parties that do not contest elections.

c. Keep receipts/coupons for even small donations such as Rs10 and Rs20.

Where were the recommendations made?

The recommendations were made in a document, “Proposed Electoral Reforms”, published this month on the EC’s website. The three recommendations have been made for the first time, although the EC’s long-standing view has been to make poll funding transparent and accountable.

Why were the recommendations made?

EC is of the view that this will help curb illegal money being used in elections and bring in more transparency in the functioning of political parties.

What is the rule currently?

Currently, there is no constitutional or statutory prohibition on receipt of anonymous donations by political parties but just a partial cap. Under section 29C of The Representation of the People Act, 1951, political parties are mandated to declare all contributions above Rs20,000.

What happens next?

The EC has sent its recommendations to the law ministry. Once the ministry vets these recommendations, an amendment to the Representation of People’s Act is drafted and placed before Parliament if the government desires. The bill will have to be passed by both the houses. If the amendment fails or is not introduced at all, the recommendations remain merely that.

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