Needed, political funding reforms, now!

Niticentral Staff | Oct 30, 2012

Friday October 19, 2012
7:32
Prasanna:

Good Evening to all and wishing you a happy pooja festivities

7:32
Shashi Shekhar:

Hello everyone

7:32
Prasanna:

Looking forward to engaging discussion.

7:33
centerofright:

Welcome All to our first session of NiTI ADDA

7:34
Prasanna:

Thanks Vijay

7:35
centerofright:

All who are giving their comments, please hold on for a second as all panelists are joining

7:36
malviyamit:

Looking forward.

7:36
Kanchan Gupta:

We are here for our first NiTi Adda… Hullo everybody.

7:37
centerofright:

Hello All – First Some rules – We will have a question to all three panelists – Kanchanda, Shashi & Prasanna for 15 minutes and then floor thrown open to all participants for questioning the panelists

7:38
centerofright:

First Question open to all panelists – Why do you think that the Political funding is the first reform to be tackled?

7:40
Prasanna:

I dont think campaign finance reform is necessarily the first reform that needs to be undertaken. I think the first step would be the democratisation of our own political parties by ushering vibrant internal democracy.

7:41
Prasanna:

We have had a slew of committes /erudite thinkers/law commission/civil society bodies thinking through this issue in systematic manner. But i suspect common consensus that they all come out , despite divergence in recommendations, is the lack of internal democracy in Indian political parties

7:41
Kanchan Gupta:

This is not about campaign cost alone. We are talking about the cost of politics, of which campaign is one part. Unless we take a close look at political funding, there is no way we can check political corruption.

7:41
Shashi Shekhar:

I am not so sure Political Funding has to be the first reform that needs to be tackled. There is no denying that electoral politics in India at all levels is replete with many conflicts of interest. We need to tackle them at some point. But the most urgent reforms have to be focused on the economy and governance especially the Cities. But we can do certainly do with reforms that don’t need a change in Law that perhaps even the Election Commission can enforce within its prerogative.

7:43
Prasanna:

While i agree with Dada that overall funding of politics has multiple dimension, i guess the biggest component of the expenditure of political party is incurred in funding and fighting elections

7:43
Shashi Shekhar:

One area the Election Commission could look into (I am not sure if this requires a change in law or not) is to remove the artificial limits on campaign spending while simultaneously making it easier to contribute to campaigns for the small donor. Reforms that can get us to a large base of small donors would be ideal.

7:44
Kanchan Gupta:

We all love politics, we want a system of governance based on democratic politics, yet we do not want to look at political funding or ask ourselves: Who foots the bill? Till such time you tackle how to pay the bill, you cannot have governance free of the burden of finding how to pay the bill.

7:44
centerofright:

@AllMy Q to you 3 was from the view point, that the corruption scandals have root in 1. Raise funds to get elected and then have a QPQ as a sort to repay them

7:45
Prasanna:

Dada – i think political parties in India are now run by a small coterie of elitist leadership that does not necessarily . Broadbased funding pool with from small contribution from members is not a preferred modus operandi

7:47
Prasanna:

Its easier for the party financier to identify 50-100 resourceful moneybags to fund political enterprise rather than build a complex infrastructure of party machinery , engaging with grassroot workers, mobilizing resource etc

7:48
Kanchan Gupta:

Let’s break up the cost of politics: a. Cost of keeping the party machinery going. b. Cost of travel and administrative expenditure. c. cost of elections. Any party which is a serious player requires serious money to meet these expenses. How does it raise the money?

7:48
Shashi Shekhar:

There will always be Quid Pro Quos of an explicit or implicit nature as long as the bulk of the funding comes from large donors. I am not sure artificial limits will eliminate that. We should look at innovative ways in which small donors can dramatically increase thus reducing the dependency on large donors.

7:48
Prasanna:

State funding of elections has been a favourite though a facile solution that lot of them including venerable Shri Advani keep touting as an easy solution to the problem. But i suspect this solution
has huge gaps as well

7:49
Kanchan Gupta:

Prasanna, years ago George Fernandes tried to raise a rupee from every house in his constituency towards his election expenditure. He couldn’t get even 50 rupees. It’s idyllic to think of small contributions, but it doesn’t happen.

7:49
Prasanna:

Matching contributions is one model some democracies have experimented with it though i am not sure about the success of those financing models

7:49
Should Govt fund elections?
Only LS & Assembly

 ( 8% )

Only LS

 ( 0% )

All Elections

 ( 21% )

None

 ( 71% )
7:50
Comment From PolvolterDnkymn

@Shashi — Completely agree that artificial limits be removed

7:50
Kanchan Gupta:

I am not suggesting state funding. what I am calling for is a wholesale reform in our electoral process. Can we consider the proportionate system with lists? That would reduce both pre-election and post-election cost of politics.

7:51
Comment From realitycheckind

I am not so sure about this. 1. Higher pay for civil servants did not make them less corrupt 2. Only fear of punishment can dampen corruption 3. Public funding will establish a new baseline – parties can still spend over it 4. Unsure what % of corruption (ie black market price for public goods) make it to he parties funds – my guess is about 80% are retained privately

7:51
Prasanna:

Shashi – I am not sure what are innovative models that can be attempted. We have state funding/big donor funding/small contributions from party sympathisers. What else?

7:51
Comment From dolby_mehul

I think one of the things that should be done is take away the undeclared donor category. Make sure that each and every donor is identified even for a small amount of Rs. 10.

7:51
Comment From sujeetpillai

Isn’t it too big an assumption to make that if we reduce the pressure of Election/Politics funding from the political parties, that would drive them towards lesser corruption and being more upright?

7:52
Comment From rknshah

Hello, 1 of major problem in India is Businessmen wants to run government and government wants to run business and a retail solution to funding can be 1 of the solution

7:53
Comment From cbcnn_Pilid

but sir @Kanchangupta, IAC has been more successful at getting contributions lately. so while perhaps still not adequate, rising awareness means ordinary folks are more willing to put their money where their vote is today

7:53
Comment From ssudhirkumar

@Kanchanda – could you please elaborate on the proportionate system with lists?

7:53
Comment From dv_tvit

Corporate/Individual funding of parties as long as transparently published(if not already) is totally fine.Funding is not the problem.Stop criminals,start internal democracy in parties and on issues which arent in election manifesto/party constitution or on no confidence motion allow conscience vote/bypassing of whip in parliament.So effectively kill dynasty politics and PartyHQ driven parliamentary votes.Connect with corporates for money and people for policy.

7:53
Comment From PolvolterDnkymn

Proportional representation = permanent entrenchment of coalition politics, parties don’t have to appeal to a broad base

7:53
Kanchan Gupta:

Prasanna, Shashi: Point is to curb the cost, and then make funding transparent. Curbing the cost of politics would be possible to a large measure if you curb the cost of election campaign. And that in turn is possible if you switch systems and opt for lists instead of direct candidates.

7:53
Comment From Great_Gujarati

Do our penalists believe that the source of election funding should be stricltly under legal scrutiny ?

7:53
Shashi Shekhar:

Interesting that @Kanchan da should bring up the List System. I personally am against Proportional Representation because it violates the fundamental principle of representing constituents.

7:54
Shashi Shekhar:

The other problem I have with the List System @Kanchanda is that it results in a Strong Party construct and an unintended consequence of that would be greater power to Party High Commands

7:54
centerofright:

All Panelists – We are going to have questions from Audience and they are going to join in

7:54
Comment From PolvolterDnkymn

People should be allowed to donate whatever amount, preferably anonymously, to whatever party or candidate they choose to

7:54
Kanchan Gupta:

Shashi: Why should specific constituencies be represented in Parliament where national laws are to be debated and framed? We have Assemblies for that. And corporations and panchayats.

7:54
Comment From lakshmishaks

I don’t think proportionate system will work, will create more instability and even more fracture mandates

7:55
Comment From India_Review

@kanchangupta GOI recently waived off fees on community radio. Can community radio network be systematically expanded and used as free platform in elections to cut down promotional expenditure?

7:55
Comment From ranganaathan

One major change required is the upper age limit is to be fixed at 65, current day politics is generation gap.

7:55
Comment From dolby_mehul

I agree with Kanchan Gupta that instead of looking at funding, we need reforms in the full electoral system. Also, reducing discretionary quotas of the government and MPs is what is needed.

7:55
Comment From ChetanAggarwal

What about combining all elections to be held together as LK Advani suggests, so as to reduce the constant expense and pressure of elections? Is that a feasible solution?

7:55
Comment From rknshah

at present bizmen is not funding politicians. He is investing and when he invests he expects returns.

7:55
Comment From ssudhirkumar

But what does a list system actually mean? :(

7:55
Prasanna:

Agree with views of dv_tvit . I think the internal renewal of political parties is the first step. I guess we need to focus on passing laws that enforce internal democracy in political parties -including for instance an election overseen by say EC or 3rd party agency for all key positions within the political party

7:55
Comment From PolvolterDnkymn

List PR — removal of democratic input into choice of candidate, increases power of party HQ to decide who chosen candidates are, reduced intra-party democracy

7:56
Comment From gbhat_

@kanchangupta, I remember George Fernandes, just after emergency, going home-to-home with a fund collection box and campaigning in my village in Chickmaglur. That energised the workers and voters alike. Now there are no such campaigns. Most elections are funded by a few money bags, including BJP. One Bellary Reddy brothers funded and won the elections for BJP in 2007 in KTK. To prevent that the account books of every party should be audited and published.

7:56
Shashi Shekhar:

@Prasanna – Make it easier to contribute to Party of Choice. I know that the BJP attempted online contributions with limited success. There could be other ways of doing this as for example in the U.S. you are asked if you would like to contribute a dollar to Presidential campaigns while Filing Your Tax Returns

7:56
Comment From skdeshpande

i want to know how can we set a target for a funding when the population,cost per area,transport willll change from pace to place across India?

7:56
Comment From lakshmishaks

you have to look at the present state of european politics, fractional system is the real reason for the indeciviness in solving euro crisis

7:56
Comment From mgupta1971

My question to all panelists: Both Congress and BJP (to a lesser extent) as institution enjoy current setup as it is favorable to them. Why should they work towards political funding reforms?

7:56
Kanchan Gupta:

List system: Every party publishes a list of candidates. Proportionate to percentage of votes, seats are allocated. Corresponding number of candidates get in from the top.

7:56
Comment From PolvolterDnkymn

@Prasanna — For state funding how much do you determine each candidate and party should receive from the state?

7:57
Comment From rknshah

Shashi, How abt IT deduction for small donors? say If I donate 5K that amount will be deducted from my income. By this way I get IT deduction , save tax and support my party.

7:57
malviyamit:

I agree with Prasanna that we need internal democracy – some sort of primaries which will throw up popular candidate. Once that is the case the temptation and need to spend disproportionate money will come down on its own.

7:57
Comment From JAYANTMAATI

Elites? Most Political parties no longer have intellectual elites like Nehrus, Patels, Ambedkars. We are left with money n muscle elites in most parties. Dont see a Professor, Engineer or a Doctor in CM gatherings only Contractors, Babus, sychophants. Where’s the elite. Some do come thru backdoor in Rajya Sabha like our PM

7:57
Kanchan Gupta:

Advantage of list system: Parties campaign for votes, not candidates. Hence cost decreases, demand for funds decreases and greater transparency can be ensured in funds collected.

7:57
Comment From karthiiyer

Why Politicians should select a Constituency Why it cant be allotted by State EC.?

7:57
Comment From skdeshpande

Question-2: The political reforms in funding which needs to be analysed which has the impact for letz say 10-15 years in mind how can we set a fund target depending on the increase in populations & political parties?

7:58
Comment From Great_Gujarati

I think state does not need to fund elections. Source election funding should be open to acceptance from business or individuals but they can not be anonymous. And the source should stand the legal scrutiny.

7:58
Comment From cbcnn_Pilid

the other argument against prooortional representation is that it hardens group identities & makes negotiation/compromise difficult especially in a fractious society

7:58
Comment From PolvolterDnkymn

@shashi — In list PR the constituents are not the aam junta but members of the party HQ

7:58
Shashi Shekhar:

@Kanchan – Because different regions can have different opinions on a National Issue. Otherwise who’s interests will MPs represent in Parliament – Party’s instead of their Constituents ?

Who will MPs be accountable to – Party or constituents ?

7:58
malviyamit:

Kanchan da, The list system will perpetuate command and control system. People won’t know who will represent them which is unfair to the electorate.

7:58
Comment From neovasant

Instead of allowing direct funding to political parties from non party members, how about a single escrow account that takes funding and distribute among the parties?

7:58
Prasanna:

Between i also have an 2-3 election suggestion – 1)Counting of votes at an aggrgate level larger than ward/assembly 2)we should get away from post poll election analysis based on caste wise/religious wise/gender wise :) this provides data point for election managers to do microtarget and spend

7:58
Comment From dolby_mehul

@prasanna @dv_tvit I dont think we need to force internal democracy on all the parties. Also, it wont have much benefit. Take INC for example, they do have elections for the post of President. Has it made any difference?

7:58
Comment From JAYANTMAATI

Kanchan, Today one needs to pay upfront to get a Party Ticket. The funding therefore begins well before lists are prepared

7:58
Comment From sane_voice

How would you make sure money power will not be used in primaries ?

7:59
Kanchan Gupta:

@Shashi: Party’s. That will force parties to think of the national interest and not narrow constituency interests.

7:59
malviyamit:

Why are we restricting electoral reforms to merely funding ? How about improving access to registration and voting for electorate ?

7:59
Shashi Shekhar:

@RKNShah Good idea to have some tax deduction for political contributions subject to a cap

8:00
Prasanna:

PolvolterDnkymn -I think some of the panels which though through this suggest that it should be based on voteshare received in the last election. funding to be linked to the voteshare

8:00
Comment From ChetanAggarwal

I have a question for @kanchangupta. What if we change the defection laws so as to reduce the power of the party whips on the candidates. Then candidates don’t need to depend on the party bosses for funding, nor do they have to pay money for tickets. in the list system the entire power will shift to the bosses.

8:00
Comment From skdeshpande

and if we set a Target for funding and if political party crosses it or even politician crosses then he/she should barred from contesting election in that phase?

8:00
Comment From lakshmishaks

My belief is that irrespective of the system, you need to empower the election commission, look at how voter ID revolutionized fake voting, and other malpractices,

8:00
Kanchan Gupta:

@malviyamit Parliament should be ideally looking at nation as constituency. Assembly can look at State. Corporations and panchayats at specific constituencies.

8:00
Comment From PolvolterDnkymn

Parliament is an instrument of the people to keep a check on the executive. Thus MPs need to have direct connection with constituents. FPTP, IRV keep that direct connection. List PR severs that.

8:00
Comment From lakshmishaks

List will be internally auctioned by the party

8:00
Comment From realitycheckind

We already have a kind of proportionate representation in local bodies – with vertical and horizontal (women) reservation

8:00
Comment From dolby_mehul

Instead of list system, how about if we have direct elections for top post like we have for Mayors

8:00
malviyamit:

If the process of registration was eased, more people would register and political parties will find it difficult to nurture vote banks or pay certain sections to ensure win.

8:01
Kanchan Gupta:

List system would also entail primaries to select names for the list. It automatically forces inner-party democracy.

8:01
Prasanna:

I agree with Amit. Thats why a comprehensive reforms of poltiical parties is needed. Transparency in membership detail, mandatory requirement to have policy cells etc to focus on issues

8:01
malviyamit:

Agree Kanchan da but are you suggesting different process for LS, AC and Corporation ?

8:03
Prasanna:

Great to see @Realitycheckind in the debate. As he says i guess unless we move towards a free agent voters not locked to narrow denominational interest demand side for corruption will continue to exist

8:03
Shashi Shekhar:

My refresh rate is slow, tough to keep up with the pace of comments coming in :)

8:03
Kanchan Gupta:

Issue really isn’t of party structure. CPM has perhaps the most elaborate party structure. Does that make the CPM more democratic than others? Issue is cost of politics.

8:03
Comment From sane_voice

Election commission already works taxpayers money. I think even if … government funds the elections.

8:03
Comment From PolvolterDnkymn

@ranganaathan — Why should people who have gained experience over their lifetimes be penalised for that? In fact people should enter politics after having spent their lives doing something more productive

8:03
Comment From PB_5

Paid news must be made crime. Election commission or some other authority must have power to act swiftly against paid news.

8:03
Comment From PolvolterDnkymn

@ChetanAggarwal — So if the central govt falls, all state govts are automatically dismissed too?

8:03
Comment From rknshah

@Shashi – 2nd things if I am official donor I shd also get recognized by my supporting party by sending me some mailers , developments of party by this way I will feel proud of geeting involved.

8:03
Comment From dv_tvit

dolby_mehul think we need enforcing of internal democracy it should be one of the key factors in recognising a political party that wishes to enter electoral politics…does it practice internally wot it wishes to do…enormous possibilities for disruptive innovation once this is in place..

8:03
Comment From PolvolterDnkymn

@Prasanna — No laws should be passed to enforce intra-party democracy. Parties should be allowed to regulate their internal affairs as they wish. It is important for the people themselves to decide to vote for parties which allow internal democracy. If they do so, all parties will eventually follow such a system

8:03
Comment From Great_Gujarati

@malaviyamait, election results are ruled by populists. main parties will win over such candidates. rest will be thrown out. So ease of registration does not solve the problem

8:04
Shashi Shekhar:

Agree @RKNShah – parties do a poor job of engaging the “free agent” constituent.

8:04
malviyamit:

How do we democratize the electoral process ? Make it more accessible and wide spread ?

8:04
Prasanna:

I think artifical limit on the election expenditure by EC has made election exorbitantly expensive affair. A thriving underground election economy of microtargetting voters to distribute largesse is in vogue now

8:05
Shashi Shekhar:

What do you mean by “democratize” @Malviyamit – it is as democratic and hence chaotic as it can get

8:05
malviyamit:

@Great_Gujarati Not true. A popular independent candidate can do equally well.

8:05
Kanchan Gupta:

Not fashionable to say this, but perhaps we should also consider compulsory voting?

8:05
Comment From PolvolterDnkymn

@Shashi — The dollar that the taxpayer donates to the US Presidential campaign goes to a general pool which funds all candidates (given certain criteria), so your donation does not necessarily go to the candidate of your choice.

8:05
Comment From lakshmishaks

@kanchanGupta: Why not have presidential system, only a few people are standing, so albiet lesser amount of money needed

8:05
Comment From ChetanAggarwal

I agree with Comment From rknshah on tax deductibility of political contributions. I believe section 80ggc already allows that.

8:05
Comment From skdeshpande

Why cant we have a Presidential kind of election for each MLA/MP/MLC/RJ seat then we dont have to make any such Political funding reforms? :)

8:05
VeerChand Bothra:

Is there a possibility of devising an election process – which requires very little money to fight?

8:06
Shashi Shekhar:

Nice idea :) @Veerchand

8:06
malviyamit:

@Shashi I mean access to registration, ease of it and then options to vote online. Will limit the influence of money if there are more free radicals in the society. After all how many people can you pay off ?

8:06
Kanchan Gupta:

Veer: Proportional representation through list system is the most inexpensive electoral process.

8:07
Prasanna:

I think Amit Malviya is making important point. Genuine Democratisation of political processes inside a party will be a gamechanger. For instance Barry Goldwater’s emergence in Republican party was based on a grassroot surge . It was first time a candidate was able to mobilsie resource in an election without big ticket donor contribution. His entire election was funded based on popular grassroot financial mobilisation

8:07
centerofright:

Indian Campaign Limit Trivia – 16 Lakhs for Each Gujarat Assembly Constituency & in Himachal it is 11 Lakh per Assembly Constituency

8:07
Comment From c_ontrarian

Political Parties should get their balance sheet audited every year.

8:07
Comment From ChetanAggarwal

@Comment From PolvolterDnkymn – We could have some sort of German model of governance that if anyone pulls down a government he has to suggest an alternative one else the present one continues.

8:07
Comment From dolby_mehul

@kanchan gupta there are a lot of issues with compulsory voting. First we need high level of awarenss. Second, what would be the punishment for non-compliance

8:07
Comment From PolvolterDnkymn

in a list PR if an MP, as a matter of conscience, decides to vote against the whip, then what happens?

8:07
Comment From rknshah

@Kanchangupta I agree compulsory voting. further only those voted can participate for government projects. also give IT deduction for voting.

8:07
Comment From Great_Gujarati

@malviyamit, buddy, popular independent candidates do not form Govt. That is a problem.

8:07
Comment From PolvolterDnkymn

@karthiiyer — You mean that candidates and constituents cannot choose who will represent the people in parliament?

8:07
Comment From realitycheckind

Free agent voters are those who are not constrained to vote in a certain way in order to retain benefits. For a democracy to function we need a critical mass of free agents in circulation. It is this unconstrained voter who will reward a leader who provisions public goods. If this fundamental anomaly of an ever compacting free agent voter population isnt corrected, for instance by judicial scrutiny, the bottom falls off. It is unlikely we are going to find a workaround in the form of a different electoral mechanism be it public funding or a PR or a presidential form of govt. They will all throw up the same actors we have today.

8:08
Shashi Shekhar:

Sure @MalviyAmit – removing barriers to registration makes sense. online voting is perhaps a long term solution.

8:08
Prasanna:

“Prasanna — No laws should be passed to enforce intra-party democracy” I agree in principle but i guess given the degeneration of political system today might be a good step

8:08
malviyamit:

@KanchanGupta Compulsory voting will work if we make the system user friendly and tech enabled. We must invest in it.

8:08
Comment From PolvolterDnkymn

@Great_Gujarati — Do you want your employers, neighbours, colleagues, clients to know who you donated money to?

8:08
Comment From mgupta1971

I agree @malviyamit, I have been trying to register my family as voter since last year, and it is still not done.

8:08
Prasanna:

Superbly said sir – “Free agent voters are those who are not constrained to vote in a certain way in order to retain benefits. For a democracy to function we need a critical mass of free agents in circulation”

8:08
Comment From skdeshpande

If we make a proper changes in the Elections reforms then cant it solve the Political fund problem also?

8:08
Comment From ashish_lohiya

Elections for middle class are paid leave, for poor freebies time and rich don’t even care…. So instead of focusing on political funding we first need to focus on voter. Compulsory voting with right to reject is the very first step.

8:09
Comment From lakshmishaks

Agree with comment from rknshah rknshah on compulsory voting. further only those voted can participate for government projects. also give IT deduction for voting.

8:09
Comment From Great_Gujarati

@Shashi Shekhar, online voting can be vulnerable to hacking. A serious danger.

8:09
Comment From rknshah

If there are primaries media will daily have SETBACK to this and Blow to that . Is our media/citizen mature to accept difference of opinion amongst party.

8:09
malviyamit:

@Great_Gujarati You are contradicting your statements. You first think that national parties will have advantage and then say that independents can’t form Govt.

8:09
Comment From PolvolterDnkymn

@neovasant — How do you determine the distribution of the funds?

8:09
Comment From sane_voice

I have comment: The political parties in US have primaries etc. but the political fundings are huge here.

8:10
Prasanna:

Shah “if there are primaries media will daily have SETBACK to this and Blow to that . Is our media/citizen mature to accept difference of opinion amongst party” Its a churn sir but i guess it will eventually turn out to well

8:10
Comment From PolvolterDnkymn

@Prasanna — Funding based on voteshare would entrench the incumbents and established parties over any outside challengers

8:11
Kanchan Gupta:

Political corruption is largely to meet cost of politics. That cost begins with election campaign, continues through tenure as a legislator and then while seeking reelection. Political cost also inbuilt in maintaining coalitions. Can we look at reforms that will remove these costs and hence make curbing political corruption more effective.

8:12
centerofright:

All Speaking on presidential form of govt and Campaign funding raised – Obama/DNC raised 550 MN ODD USD and Romney/RNC raised 610 MN ODD USD – Almost 1.16 BN USD

8:12
Comment From kerteshkumar

People from the respective seats should fund publically & candidates must disclose the info publically after elections by all parties

8:12
Comment From dv_tvit

Electoral lists …painless way to enroll is another key enabler…need greater enrollment of middle class in electoral rolls and party rolls and we shud be there…

8:12
Comment From rknshah

@Prasaana I am all for it, but it shd be applicable for all parties.

8:12
realitycheckind:

The United States elections involve huge campaign kitty because it costs a lot to reach out to individual free agent voters – TV ads, phone calls, flyers, email campaigns, college tours etc. It isnt at all clear to me that a Mulayam or Ramadoss need to do any of these things to persuade.

8:12
Comment From PolvolterDnkymn

@ChetanAggarwal — Completely agree. Anti-defection law was passed to protect the party HQs from outside challenges though it was portrayed as fighting aaya ram gaya raam. We need this law to be abolished.

8:13
Comment From rvrbreeze

Wud Presidential form of govt at centre & state level decrease election expenditure?

8:13
Comment From PolvolterDnkymn

@skdeshpande — Why should candidates be banned for spending more than some artificial limit? Why don’t we also limit their speaking, maybe one debate where they lay out their vision and that is it?

8:13
Comment From neovasant

@PolvolterDnkymn contributor can specify the recipient party

8:13
Comment From Great_Gujarati

@malviyamit, he ? how is that contradictory ? I said big parties will win over popular candidates so registration from more & more people do not make diff. And independents do not form Govt.

8:13
Comment From ChetanAggarwal

What about allowing early voting so as to enable people to vote at their convenience and not force parties to spend money on bussing people to the booth on the last day?

8:13
Shashi Shekhar:

The costs of an electiona are a reality @Kanchanda – I don’t see those costs going away. Costs of maintaining a coalition can certainly be done away with if we move towards a Presidential form of government or semi-Presidential ….

8:13
Comment From rknshah

RS has to be shut as lots of deals for RS seats.

8:14
Comment From skdeshpande

How the compulsoary vote can be enforced on people on Election in-charge officials,Serving doctors, Army Jawans etc?…

8:14
Comment From Themi Dzone

Talking about REFORMS IN INDIA! The 1st thing is to abolish the Caste & Class divides that results in “VICIOUS INTERNAL PARTISAN POLITICS.” as long as it is there any kind of funding will end up in RESERVATIONS & QUOTAS to their Knit, Kin & Community. So the prime topic for INDIA should be on Abolishing the Class Divides, without which any kind of funding wouldn’t just work.

8:14
Kanchan Gupta:

Carrying Shashi’s point forward, shall we then consider reforming the structure of government through structural reforms in our electoral process?

8:14
malviyamit:

Fixed terms can do away with the cost of running coalition. @KanchanGupta

8:15
Shashi Shekhar:

But @CenterOfRight a large cost there involves media buying and human resources

8:15
Shashi Shekhar:

Absolutely @Kanchan-da

8:15
Comment From dolby_mehul

@rknshah we cant shut down RS in the present format. There are many eminent persons who would find getting elected hard. How do you make them ministers?

8:15
Comment From sane_voice

Our discussion is based on the premise that political expense leads to corruption. In USA as well political expense is high even though we have primaries. I think it is worth while to see the major differences in the political funding mechanism in US. Second point … we do not have presidential system … political parties go with a team of leaders not with a single leader. So will we have primaries for different ministries. ?

8:15
Comment From rknshah

@skdeshpande in compulsory voting u can get exemption before voting day if u can provide legitimate excuse. happens in Brazil

8:16
Comment From rvrbreeze

Fixed terms, three terms max( for continuity)

8:16
Comment From ChetanAggarwal

Agree with @shashishekhar that Presidential format would reduce the cost of maintaning coalitions? But wouldnt it enormously add to the electoral expense burden on one person? Who can afford to fight across the country as large as ours?

8:16
Comment From c_ontrarian

It’s well known that Cong has enough accumulated reserves and surpluses that it can buy off small challengers and prop up parties to divide opposition challenges like it did in Maharashtra and AP. How do you counter that?

8:16
Comment From Great_Gujarati

@polvolterdnkymn, well, the funding list should not be revealed by EC to public unless there is a situation.

8:16
Comment From PolvolterDnkymn

How is compulsory voting compatible with democracy? The act of not voting is a protest and an indictment of the current system. Also how do you prevent people from spoiling their ballot?

8:16
Comment From dolby_mehul

@KanchanGupta I agree that we need structural reforms in our electoral process. Removing first past the post system

8:16
Prasanna:

@Prasanna — Funding based on voteshare would entrench the incumbents . Agree but will also disincentivise frivolous political outfits and raise entry barrier for political formation. Downside though will it will strengthen the hand of established leadership of parties as they can run their patronage network . it will a blow to any federalisation of political parties

8:16
Comment From PolvolterDnkymn

@chetanaggarwal — re: Germany So if no alternative can be proposed then the legislature is forced to supply the executive? How does the legislature then check the power of the executive?

8:17
Shashi Shekhar:

Won’t fly @Prasanna – there will be constitutional issues with such apportioning of public funds based on vote share.

8:18
Which should be tackled first?
Political Funding

 ( 43% )

Change in First Past the Post

 ( 29% )

Move to a Presidential form of elections

 ( 29% )
8:18
Comment From rknshah

@dolby my problem is candidate lose in LS come backdoor in RS. person rejected by ppl still becomes minister and bizmen buys RS seats

8:18
Comment From ChetanAggarwal

@Comment From PolvolterDnkymn True we need this law abolished. Or at least make it like Shourie suggests – only on a confidence motion will this law apply, everywhere else the legislators are free.

8:18
Comment From mgupta1971

How about having all political parties’ accounts become public domain information at the end of each quarter.. Would it put break on political funding malpractices?

8:18
Comment From ChetanAggarwal

@Comment From PolvolterDnkymn They have a list cum constituency system. So all governments are almost always coalitions. That in itself, and a very very robust civil society, judiciary and an ironclad constitution makes it impossible for a government to play truant.

8:19
malviyamit:

Electoral reforms should be part of the options.. They should be targeted first.

8:19
Shashi Shekhar:

But @MGupta1971 much of the funding data is now public not sure quarterly updates make sense.

8:19
Kanchan Gupta:

I am personally opposed to the idea of public funds for political parties. Let parties raise their funds, but in a transparent manner. Quid pro quo of political funding goes if we reform electoral system.

8:19
Comment From sane_voice

If you look at big ticket corruptions in india 2G. CWG. coal scam …. do we really think that these guys raised money just to win elections ?

8:19
Comment From PolvolterDnkymn

Protest against the second question — Why not the option for write-in or “None of the above”?

8:20
Kanchan Gupta:

Attempts at reforms via the EC route have failed till now. TN Seshan’s much touted reforms have actually led to escalation in costs.

8:20
Shashi Shekhar:

Absolutely agree with @Kanchanda – Parties should raise their own funds. Government can at best be a facilitator. Contribute to your Party of choice through Tax Remmitances let Govt route the Funds accordingly.

8:20
Comment From dolby_mehul

@rknshah I agree. A solution could be do away with the requirement that minister has to be MP.

8:20
Comment From rknshah

2 things must be done immeidately – RS candidate cant become PM and LS loser cant come via RS for certain cooling period.

8:21
Comment From PolvolterDnkymn

@neovasant, so how is that different from directly funding the parties, why put in this extra step of the escrow?

8:21
Comment From c_ontrarian

@MalviyaAmit Which is the most critical and doable electoral reform?

8:21
centerofright:

All we have another 10 Minutes for questions and after that wrapping up comments from the 3 panelists

8:22
malviyamit:

@c_ontrarian Improve access and facilitate voting process.

8:22
Shashi Shekhar:

Agree with multiple suggestions made earlier on scrapping the current Rajya Sabha – should eliminate a lot of special interest money from the political system. Refashion Rajya Sabha along the lines of US Senate.

8:23
Comment From PolvolterDnkymn

@dolby_mehul — why do ministers (with the exception of the PM) have to be MPs? Let the PM select whoever he or she wants to be a minster with the Parliament having the power to scrutinise, and if required to veto, that appointment?

8:23
Kanchan Gupta:

Unfortunately, we confuse ‘reform’ for tinkering with and tweaking the system. That is not going to work. Reform by definition has to be radical. It has to result in something absolutely different. I am votary for a new Republic based on a spanking new electoral system that will force political parties to change their own style of functioning.

8:23
malviyamit:

@Shashi If you did not have RS, UPA would be running riot. It is a balancing system.

8:24
Comment From PolvolterDnkymn

@sane_voice — No need for primary for ministers. Primaries for deciding candidates for elections

8:24
Comment From dolby_mehul

Another benefit of having a presidential system is that we dont have problems wherein we like the party but not a candidate. For example, in my constituency, Party A (which I support) has put up a candidate who is not good. While Party B (which is bad for the nation) has put up an honest person. Either way i am taking a decision which is wrong. If we have presidential system, I can vote for the best candidate for MP

8:24
Comment From rknshah

@Amit RS format has to be changed

8:24
Shashi Shekhar:

Not the current form of Rajya Sabha @MalviyAmit – US Senate model more effective as a check against Lok Sabha’s excesses

8:25
centerofright:

Also this chat session will be availale as a replay on the website

8:25
Kanchan Gupta:

Fragmentation of the national parties is no reason to celebrate. Regional parties or State specific parties cannot substitute national parties. The time to act is now.

8:25
Comment From neovasant

@PolvolterDnkymn need not depend on parties to publish their funding.

8:25
Comment From PolvolterDnkymn

@great_gujarati — And how can you be sure that the funding records cannot be leaked to interested parties?

8:25
Shashi Shekhar:

A New Republic would be a huge Red Flag to a significant segment of the population @Kanchanda – Have to figure ways to get to the ideal end state from within this Constitution

8:26
Comment From c_ontrarian

Presidential system is not a panacea, it’s not doable either, & goes against the principles of democracy by limiting choice.

8:26
Comment From dv_tvit

Agree totally with point of presidential system or PM choosing his team subject to Parliament scrutiny….but will it not need major overhaul…?

8:27
Kanchan Gupta:

I think we are nearing the end of this Adda session. May I on behalf of NiTi thank all who took time off to join us here — thank you all. We will meet again!

8:28
malviyamit:

Thank you. Great session.

8:28
Comment From dolby_mehul

@c_ontrarian in what ways does it limit choice? In the present form, we dont choose our PM or President. Isnt this limiting choice

8:28
Comment From Great_Gujarati

@PolvolterDnkymn, well, that possibility lies with any confidential Govt records :)

8:28
Comment From PolvolterDnkymn

@Prasanna — “raise entry barrier for political formation.” — Do we really want to do that? Entry barriers to market entry lead to monopolies. Do we want such monopolies in the electoral system? And who decides what is frivolous?

8:28
Comment From neovasant

@PolvolterDnkymn also can easily control election spending by releasing funds periodically or placing limit

8:28
Comment From Great_Gujarati

bonne nuit, hasta la vista

8:29
centerofright:

Please send in you suggestions and feedback using the feeback page on NiTi Central. Thanks all for joining in

8:29
Shashi Shekhar:

Keep the debate going. Closing thought from my end – Try to make a political contribution and try to get your party of choice to be more accountable to you. Small Baby Steps will go a long way towards cleaning up the system.

8:29
Comment From rknshah

Thanks for taking my Q and publishing my comments.

8:29
Comment From ChetanAggarwal

Thank you for the great discussion

8:29
Comment From PolvolterDnkymn

@ChetanAggarwal – re: Germany What came first — a robust civil society or good government?

8:29
Comment From dv_tvit

but…if PM chooses his technocratic cabinet… it fundamentally weakens democracy… we need erudite people who have been directly participated & been chosen rather than indirectly ratified….

8:29
Comment From dolby_mehul

It would be great, if someone can collate the topics and write an article on this.

 

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