Penalise political parties not filing election expenditure: ADR
Association for Democratic Reforms released a report on Wednesday. The study analyses funds collected and expenditures incurred by political parties in five state Assembly elections held last year
In the five state Assembly elections held last year, regional parties spent over three times more than the funds received in the form of cash, cheques and demand drafts in Assam, Kerala, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, a study showed on Wednesday.
Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR)—a Delhi-based think tank working on poll reforms—in its recent report: Analysis of Funds Collected and Expenditure Incurred by Political Parties in the 5 State Assembly Elections, 2016, which was released on Wednesday, showed the regional parties collected a total of ₹67.22 crore and incurred an expenditure of ₹213.97 crore.
“Of the 25 regional parties which contested in the five state Assembly elections, NPP, JDS, RSP, KCM, DMDK, RJD, JKNPP, AJSU and JMM have not submitted their election expenditure statements for at least one Assembly election that they contested,” the study revealed, adding that political parties are required to submit a statement of election expenditure to the Election Commission of India (ECI) within 75 days of completion of Assembly elections.
On the other hand, the data collated by the study further showed that national parties collected ₹ 287.89 crore and spent ₹188.12 cr during the Assembly elections held across five states in 2016.
The ADR study further stated that the expenditure statements contained information on the amount spent on publicity, travel expenses and other expenses and expenditure towards candidates at the state, district and constituency level by the parties.
“Political parties submit these statements providing information of funds collected and spent between announcement and completion of elections. This period could be between 3 weeks to 3 months based on the notification issued by the ECI,” it stated. It added that the election expenditure reports contained information on the funds collected at the central headquarters of the party as well as at the state level.
The study also noted that national and regional parties collected a total of ₹190.23 crore at the central level, in cash and by cheque, constituting 53.57 per cent of the total funds collected at the central and state levels.
Among the state units, the political parties collected the maximum amount of ₹84.30 crore from West Bengal which formed 23.74 per cent of the total funds collected at the state and central levels, the study added.
Key takeaways from the ADR report are listed below:
- The most preferred mode was by cheque where the parties collected ₹197.32 crore which formed 55.57 per cent of the total funds collected at the state and central levels
- Out of total expenditure of ₹402.09 crore, 75.32 per cent or ₹302.86 crore was spent via cheque while the national and regional parties together have listed ₹75.93 crore as unpaid expenses under the ‘remaining unpaid’ head. This forms 18.88 per cent of the total expenditure.
- Similar to fund collection, the central headquarters of the national and regional parties spent the maximum (₹217.64 crore) and the second highest amount was declared by the Tamil Nadu state units (₹79 crore), followed by West Bengal state units (₹ 57.76 crore) and Kerala state units (₹31.01 crore).
- The national parties spent a total of ₹137.46 crore on publicity while the regional parties declared a total expense of ₹119.33 crore under the same head.
- While national parties spent ₹51.04 crore on travel expenses, the regional parties incurred an expense of ₹23.46 crore under the same head.
- While national parties declared giving ₹151.65 crore to their candidates for election expenditure, the regional parties spent only ₹60.89 cr on their candidates.
The report also makes the following recommendations:
- It must be made mandatory for all political parties to submit their statements of expenditure in the format given by the ECI, within the prescribed time limit. Political parties not submitting on time or in the prescribed format should be heavily penalised.
- The details of all donors who contribute to national and regional parties exclusively for their election campaigns must be declared in the public domain irrespective of the amount donated.
- A format similar to the donations’ report along with the date of donations, submitted to the ECI on an annual basis, has to be prescribed for the expenditure statement so as to bring in more transparency in the finances of the political parties especially during elections. Black money allegedly plays a major role during poll time.
- Where possible, expenditure must be limited to transactions via cheque/DD/RTGS so as to reduce use of black money in elections, as per the transparency guidelines issued by the ECI.
- Similar to the shadow observers of the ECI for monitoring expenditure of candidates, there must also be observers for monitoring the expenditure of political parties.