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Tribune Special
CEC admits failure to curb money power
R. Suryamurthy
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 9
Chief Election Commissioner N. Gopalaswami today admitted the poll panel’s failure to eliminate the use of money power in elections and suggested sealing on the quantum of money political parties can spend for electioneering.

“Yes, this is one area where we have not achieved the desired results. We have seen that the candidates shift their poll expenditure to the party account. We would like a sealing on political parties’ expenditure to curb excessive use of money power in electioneering,” Gopalaswami told The Tribune in an interview.

Relaxed after the seven-phased Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, the CEC said the appointment of expenditure commissioners had helped in controlling outlandish display of money power by the candidates.

Asked about the surrogate advertisements, Gopalaswami said: “Those who are issuing it are more clever than we think they are. If they are issued in the favour of a candidate, then the amount is charged to the expenditure of the candidate. If in the favour of a party, it is added to its account. We try to find out who had issued it and his source of income. But, what we have observed is that it is issued against a candidate and we are finding out how to deal with it,” the CEC said.

He refrained from making any comments on the anti-Muslim CD row. The commission had asked the BJP to condemn the CD while keeping in abeyance its final decision on the demand for de-recognition of the party under the Symbols Order till the investigation was over.

When pointed out that there have been several instances of violation of the model code of conduct and the commission’s action appears to be lenient, Gopalaswami said these codes had been formed with the consensus of all political parties.

On the criminalisation of politics, the CEC expressed his differences with the opinion of the parliamentary standing committee, which favours debarring those declared proclaimed offender and convicts from contesting poll.

“Debarring proclaimed offender does not prevent them entering the electoral fray. There have been several instances where proclaimed offenders have surrendered to contest elections. Our suggestion that those persons against whom charges have been framed for serious offences should be debarred from contesting poll,” he said.

Gopalaswami said the panel was pursuing photo electoral rolls in the state. “We would like by 2009 General elections all the states to go for photo electoral rolls,” he said, adding this would enable identification of the voters whether they bring electors photo identity cards (EPIC) or not at the time of voting.

He said the EPIC could be successful only if it is a multi-purpose card and “we have even suggested it to be used as a job card under the Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme”.

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