Panchayat polls: Transparency in fundraising demanded

Bhubaneswar: In the wake of the ensuing panchayat polls early next year, civil society organisations have raised fingers at the transparency of the fundraising of political parties.

At a meeting organised here by Odisha Election Watch (OEW), the State chapter of National Election Watch, the civil society members demanded that a transparency in the poll expenses as well as fundraising is needed to bring reforms in the democratic process.

“From the Election Commission’s point of view, transparency of fundraising and expenses is inevitable. Also it is helpful to police, the administration and the people who vote their candidates hoping for a change and development of their region. So, as voters we should take a vow that I will not vote for anybody who is using black money and is trying to bribe me,” said Trilochan Shastri, Founder Member, Association of Democratic Reform.

Attending the programme, State Election Commission secretary Rabindranath Sahu said that awareness among the votes should be created so that they will refrain from being bribed by the aspirants.

“We have failed to reach the voters so far as bribing during polls is concerned. An awareness drive in this regard is the need of the hour,” Sahu pointed out.

The election watchdog noted that though the political parties are showing their poll-related expenses, they must come forward and disclose their sources of funding.

In its report OEW said, while BJP’s income during 2012-13 and 2014-15 was Rs 1968.41 crores, the figure stands at Rs 1617.06 crores with Indian National Congress (INC). The two national parties are followed by Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM) (Rs 371.88cr) , Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) (Rs 266.5cr) and National Congress Party (NCP) (Rs 149.65 cr).

It said, during the aforementioned period, Biju Janata Dal (BJD) has shown income of Rs 38.5 crores.

Commenting on the discussion, BJD spokesperson Dibya Shankar Mishra said transparency in poll expenses as well as sourcing of funds must be encouraged.