The Communist party of India has urged the Election Commission to create slabs based on income tax returns of political parties to determine the rate of advertising of criminal history of candidates in the electoral fray which has been made mandatory by the poll body.
In a letter to the EC, CPI Rajya Sabha MP Binoy Viswam and the party secretary has said while a notification issued by the poll body last year mandating criminal antecedents of individuals contesting elections be advertised in newspapers and TV channels was welcome, it was too expensive to do so for certain political parties.
"I write to you now to bring to your attention ground realities which would show that there is a disparate impact of this obligation. As is well known, the costs of such advertising, mainly in television channels, is expensive.
"Considering that the party has to advertise thrice in both newspapers and TV channels with wide circulation about the criminal antecedents or lack of it of many candidates it may choose to field across multiple constituencies across the country, the cost for the same may be unbearable for certain parties like CPI whose resources are limited," Viswam said.
He also said as per available sources on the income of various political parties, in the financial year of 2017-18, the BJP's income was Rs 1,027.34 crore, Congress' was Rs 199.15 crore and the CPI's was Rs 1.55 crore.
"The BJP's total income constitutes nearly 80 per cent of the combined income, both known and unknown, of seven national political parties (BJP, INC, BSP, NCP, AITC, CPI, CPI(M)).
"It is requested that taking into account the incomes as latest disclosed in income tax returns, slabs may be created of different parties depending on their income and that could be used to decide the charges that would be levied by different newspapers and channels for such advertising," he said, adding that making the charges proportionate to the party's income would ensure that one specific party is not unnecessarily burdened in implementation of this welcome policy.
He requested the EC to issue requisite directions to local newspapers and TV channels to charge political parties and their members as per the slabs created by the EC according to the income of the respective party.
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