Prasad says polls should be free and fair, rejects cap on expenses

Prasad says polls should be free and fair, rejects cap on expenses

Agency News

New Delhi, Mar 13 : Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Friday admitted that though there had been aberrations due to violation on the cap on poll expenses, elections should be free and fair. He was replying to a discussion in the House on a private members' Bill seeking lifting of cap on electoral reforms, moved by Prof Rajeev Gowda, Congress.

He told Members that the limit on poll expenses had been revised four-five times. While the limit for expenditure in a Lok Sabha election was Rs 70 lakh it was Rs 28 lakh for assembly polls. Citing that rarely had an industrialist risen to the position of Prime Minister, the minister underlined that India was a democratic country and "we have public sense of decorum and dignity".

He opposed the Bill saying that if passed, then there would be no bar on poll expenses and the rich could spend as much as Rs 50 crore to ensure his election. While admitting that the Election Commission needed to revisit the cap on poll expenses, Mr Prasad said the rule fixing the limit on election expenditure should reflect the changing times. On the minister's request to withdraw the Bill, Gowda said the Bill was brought in as he wanted to get rid of the negative power of money in politics. Actual expenditure was much more than that shown by candidates.

He said it was an attempt to bring in transparency and every paise should be visible so that there was accountability regarding poll expenses, adding that various states displayed the "worst outcomes of money power". Stating that "we should not have a law which forces every lawmaker to break the law,' the Congress MP agreed to withdraw the Bill. (UNI)