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A Congress member today made a strong pitch in the Rajya Sabha for state funding of elections. Participating in a debate on the Budget, M V Rajeev Gowda said money from the public exchequer collected through means like taxation should be used to fund the electoral expenditure of political parties and their candidates. "When everyone wants something but are not willing to contribute, we should use the taxation system to provide those goods," he said. "To be competitive, you need a certain threshold of expenditure.
You need to spend a certain amount of money in order to be seen as a serious candidate and that amount of money should be contributed by the public exchequer," he said. Gowda even suggested a formula for allocating resources to the political parties and their candidates for electoral funding. "For every vote that a political party has got in the last election, you allocate Rs 100, half of it to the central party and the constituency level bank account, while the other half should be used to incentivise parties, their candidates as well as independents," he said. The Congress member called for "counter productive" laws and rules to be re-examined, citing the example of a rule that says that no political candidate can spend more than Rs 70 lakh for a Lok Sabha election. "The truth of the matter is, electoral expenses go much beyond, so the cap has driven expenses underground," he added. "Political parties select candidates by seeing how much cash they have or how much black money they can spend. This is the kind of counter productive rule that needs to be thrown out," Gowda said. He said it needs to be ensured that candidates and political parties raise the resources for contesting elections in a clean, open and transparent manner.
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