'Not your job': CPM tells Election Commission on proposal to control ‘freebie’ offers during polls

Sitaram Yechury I ANI

New Delhi: CPM on Wednesday slammed the recommendation of the Election Commission to describe means of income for the poll promises it make as "interference in parties’ rights."

"The Election Commission’s proposal to amend the Model Code of Conduct to guide political parties to disclose how they plan to finance promises made in their election manifestos and how this would impact the financial situation of the state governments concerned or Central government is a totally unwarranted move.

"The Constitution mandates the Election Commission to conduct free and fair elections. It is not the job of the Election Commission to regulate the policy pronouncements and welfare measures that political parties promised to the people. This is an area which is solely the prerogative of political parties in a democracy," the CPM poliburo said in a statement.

"The Election Commission had, in an affidavit to the Supreme Court in April, stated that the Commission cannot regulate policy decisions of political parties and that it would be an overreach of powers. It is surprising that the Election Commission has now taken a contrary stand. Is this due to pressure being exercised by the executive?

"The CPM is strongly opposed to any effort to circumscribe or regulate the right of political parties to address people’s concerns and offer policy measures to ameliorate their problem," it read.

The Election Commission on Tuesday proposed amending the model code to ask political parties to provide authentic information to voters on the financial viability of their poll promises.

In a letter to all recognised national and state parties, the Election Commission (EC) asked them to submit their views on the proposals by October 19.

The EC also said empty poll promises have far-reaching ramifications, adding it cannot overlook the undesirable impact inadequate disclosures on election promises have on financial sustainability.

"The Commission notes that the consequences of inadequate disclosures by political parties get attenuated by the fact that elections are held frequently, providing opportunities for political parties to indulge in competitive electoral promises, particularly in multi-phase elections, without having to spell out their financial implications more particularly on committed expenditure," the letter said.

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