In a bid to bring transparency in political funding, former union minister and Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari Saturday mooted the idea of linking all donations made to political parties with Aadhaar. Stating that corporates should not fund political process, Tewari said lifting the cap off corporate funding has enabled parties to create a corporate structure, which is “far more dangerous”. “All that you need to do is to have a simple amendment that any donation made to any political party needs to have an address. Therefore, you link every donation with Aadhaar and as long as their is a clear Aadhaar linkage, the source of that funding can be traced. I do not think we really need to go down the entire route of the decreasing (donation limit) from Rs 20,000 to Rs 2,000. It means we have to print 10 times more coupons which means nothing at all,” said Tewari, while speaking at the annual electoral and political reforms conference of Association for Democratic Reforms.

Sharing his views on lifting the cap off corporate funding to political parties,Tewari said, “The amendment has enabled political parties to create a corporate structure around them. Funding can now be done through the process of these entities.” Tewari said no politician or political party is interested in addressing the issue of political funding in any manner because there is a “collective vested interest” that wants to perpetuate the status quo. “That standing structure of the political parties requires infusion (of funds) 24×7 and 365 days a year. There is funding that needs to be looked at or this whole gamut of electoral or political reform has to be looked at different levels,” he said.

Stating that one possible solution to unaccountability of the political funding can also be found by amending the Right to Information Act (RTI), Tewari said bringing the parties under the RTI Act can take care of the transparency issue. “Amend the RTI Act, rather than stretching the definition of public authority and straight away say that political parties are within the ambit of the act,” he added.

When asked that corporates do not have an Aadhaar number, Tewari replied saying that another possibility to reform the electoral process is state-funding of elections. “One possibility which has been explored for a large time is state-funding of elections. It is and idea worth exploring but how will one ensure that no private funding takes place,” he said. The Congress spokesperson further said that the electoral bond scheme of the government is a non-starter because of the “pervasive undermining of RBI which has taken place in the last six months”. “RBI would know who the purchaser of the bond is and the government would be able to access the information where that bond has gone,” he said.

Saying the internal elections held by political parties are often farcical, Tewari said an election commission-like body can look over a party’s electoral system . “You need an external body to at least begin with superintending the internal democratic processes of national parties and then going on to state parties and then go further down,” he added.

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