Three applications a week for poll panel recognition

August 6th, 2008 - 7:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Chennai, Aug 6 (IANS) The Election Commission receives three applications every week from groupings wishing to register themselves as political parties, according to Chief Election Commissioner N. Gopalaswami. There are already 967 registered political parties.

Gopalaswami was delivering the third annual lecture organised by the Scientific Research Association for Economics and Finance, Anna Institute of Management, here Tuesday evening. His theme was Electoral Democracy: the Context, Cost and Consequences.

He said it was a “badly kept secret” that parties and candidates spent much more than the permitted Rs.1 million per contestant for assembly polls and Rs.2.5 million for Lok Sabha elections.

The government itself spends Rs.22.20 billion on a national election - that is about Rs.30 million per constituency, he said.

“The role of money and muscle power is one of the growing complexities of elections in India,” he said, adding that the poll panel had “recently recovered Rs.45 crore (Rs.450 million) worth of goods meant for distribution to voters”.

He also called “ridiculous” a 2003 amendment to the Representation of the People Act that allowed parties to receive any amount of donation which became legal just by furnishing an acknowledgement to allow the donor to claim income tax exemption.

He noted that there was no ceiling for donations.

“Many of them (parties) function only for monetary benefits and to convert black money into white,” the Chief Election Commissioner said.

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