The Hindu

Chief Election Commissioner V.S. Sampath called on Sunday for a new legislation to better regulate the activities of political parties.

He made the pitch while speaking on the concluding day of the ninth annual conference on electoral and political reforms, organised here by the Association of Democratic Reforms and National Election Watch.

He said the Election Commission had succeeded in eliminating booth capturing and hooliganism. Now, it was working to regulate the excessive use of money power. It had set up a poll expenditure monitoring committee.

The Commission could not act against media houses over paid news; only the Press Council of India could do it.

On Sunday, the final day of the conference, elected representatives of the panchayati raj institutions narrated their success stories.

Sarpanch Rukmi Devi spoke of her experience of defeating a rich candidate by spending only Rs. 2,000 on her campaign. Another Sarpanch Kalu Ram spent a mere Rs. 654.

Noting that the panchayati raj institutions were riddled with problems, Mazdoor Kishan Shakti Sangathan leader Nikhil Dey admitted that the system had provided women and the poor with opportunities of mobility.

Rajasthan Chief Electoral Officer Ashok Jain said that providing security to women candidates in panchayat elections had emerged as a major concern.

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