New Delhi

The two-day consultation on political finance and Law Commission (255th report) recommendations seemed to have paved the way for introducing much-needed electoral reforms to keep people's faith in democracy, including putting a ban on corporate funding of political parties.

After two days of consultations on political finance and Law Commission recommendations, chief election commissioner H S Brahma said the deliberations have not gone in vain as there was consensus among all stakeholders, including political parties, on seven issues including stopping corporate funding of political parties and instead route all funding through a trust, preferably managed by the election commission.

According to Brahma, the other major issues on which consensus has been reached are: big money in elections needs to be controlled, need to check buying of votes with a firm hand, transparency of account of political parties and candidates must be ensured, institutionalise a common trust for funding of elections to be overseen preferably by the Election Commission, establishment of fast-tack courts to hear electoral offences and to give more powers to the Election Commission to enforce law and also power to frame rules on its own like some other regulatory authorities.

All stakeholders were in agreement that the current expenditure limit of Rs 70 lakh for Lok Sabha candidates and Rs 28 lakh for candidates contesting assembly elections is being flouted with impunity as there are no ways to check it.

Conceding that the Indian political system is in dire need of electoral reforms, and people throughout the length and breadth of the country are concerned about having little transparency in electoral system and governance, Brahma hoped the political parties and in particularly the government will pay heed to the need for reforms.

Brahma said that state funding is a possibility as among political parties 70% are demanding it.

Election commissioner Nasim Ahmad Zaidi said the four working groups in the two-day-long deliberations listed some 38 recommendations among which there was consensus on 6-7 issues and broad agreement on a dozen issues.

"All these issues need to be deliberated further. We will send all these recommendations, especially those agreed upon to the law ministry and will see that government firms up its views on them and gives them the legal framework," he said.

The consultation was attended by six former chief election commissioners, including N Gopalaswamy, Lyngdoh, S Y Quraishi, among others, representatives of 38 political parties and chief electoral officers from various states besides poll watchdog Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) and legal luminaries like Justice M B Shah and various academicians.

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