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A proposal of the Election Commission seeking statutory powers to countermand a poll over cases of bribe-for-votes has received the backing of the opposition Congress, while the BJP has suggested that illegal gratification should have similar definition in all laws. At an all-party meeting held here on Friday, the poll panel had sought the views of parties on its proposal to have a specific clause in the Representation of the People Act "to take appropriate action including countermanding of election in the event of incidents of bribery of electors". The Congress, the main opposition party in Parliament, said it stands for strengthening of democratic institutions in their fight against graft. "The Congress party stands for strengthening of institutions of democracy.
All steps which will fight and reduce the menace of money power will have the support of the party," party leader Vivek Tankha told PTI. Tankha, a former Additional Solicitor General, had represented the Congress at the all-party meeting. BJP general secretary Bhupendra Yadav said his party will apprise the Election Commission of its stand on the issue in detail and insisted that the term gratification be "synchronised" with all laws. "The term gratification should be synchronised with all laws. Parliament is already considering the subject in the form of amendments to the Prevention of Corruption Act," he said. Yadav had represented the BJP in the meeting. The Commission has asked the government to add a new section 58 B in the Representation of People Act, 1951, on the lines of section 58 A, which allows adjournment of poll or countermanding the election on the ground of booth capturing. As of now, the Commission uses its powers under Article 324 to countermand elections where voters have been bribed in large numbers to influence the outcome. The R K Nagar assembly bypoll in Tamil Nadu was cancelled on the same grounds recently.