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1800 parties registered with EC – Less than 60 contest elections

The Chennai International Centre (CIC) presented former chief election commissioners T S Krishnamurthy and N Gopalaswami to discuss electoral reforms. These renowned civil servants expressed concern over the role played by money in elections. 

TSK said that ceiling on expenditure prescribed is violated with impunity and suggested setting up of a national election fund. He wants the election commissioners to be selected by a collegium consisting of the prime minister, leader of the opposition and the chief justice. 

Murthy added: “more than 1800 parties are registered with the EC. Of these only some 50 to 60 contest elections and the others are used to convert black money into white.” 

Successive election commissioners have warned of political corruption. Corporate donations made to political parties are  on expectations of a quid pro quo: politicians treat election expenditure as an investment that would get handsome returns on getting elected. 

In the 1990s T N Seshan as CEC instilled a sense of fear on the part of political parties by countermanding elections on corrupt practices. This had a salutary effect in curbing booth-capturing. Since then the conduct of polls has been remarkably peaceful.  But the EC has not succeeded in reducing the free play of money. Former CEC Dr. Nazeem Zaidi in an interview to IE said: “the long drawn process of investigations and prosecution take years making the whole exercise futile.” The recent proposal to set up special courts to deal with such offences will help in time-bound remedies.

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