CPI(ML)'s Position on State Funding of Elections

[CPI(ML) response to the Union Cabinet proposal on state funding of elections mooted on December 22, which was circulated by the Election Commission among all parties for feedback.]


Chief Election Commissioner

Election Commission of India

Nirvachan Sadan

Ashoka Road

New Delhi 110 001

Subject: Views of CPI(ML)(Liberation) regarding the December 22 proposals of the Union Cabinet


Apropos of your request for our views regarding the December 22 proposals made by the Union Cabinet on state funding of elections, we hereby briefly summarise our positions.

We are in principle agreed to the idea of state funding of elections so that the impact of private money-power can be held in check and money does not become an entry barrier to the participation of the toiling and weaker sections of society in the electoral process. The proposals put forward by the Union Cabinet are however silent about these basic objectives.

Part (a) of the proposed package deals not with election-related expenses but with the general office functioning of recognized political parties. There is no reason why the state should extend such facilities or subsidies to political parties. Political parties, recognized or not, are not wings of the state, but are supposed to be organizations of the people. State funding of political parties is therefore unnecessary and undesirable. It will distort the relations between the state and political parties and open the way to discriminations among parties and possibly also to state interference in the autonomous functioning of political parties.

As for allocation of time for recognized parties on private cable television network and electronic media, it may be considered as an extension of the present facility enjoyed by recognized parties on the Prasar Bharati network. But the current system of allocation needs to be reviewed and replaced by a more equitable pattern so that bigger parties do not enjoy disproportionately greater advantages. Also, the policy becomes meaningless if resource-rich parties are allowed to unleash massive private-funded publicity campaigns through the electronic and print media. It is therefore important to regulate and limit such private publicity campaigns in the mass media while extending state-funded facilities to recognized parties.

We do not see much merit in section (b) of the proposed package either. Unwarranted discrimination must not be introduced among candidates set up by recognized parties and others. The benefits of state funding of elections should not be such in nature as to put candidates set up by unrecognized parties to any major disadvantage or discrimination. Electoral rolls should be provided free of cost to all candidates. Facilities like some minimum arrangements for the candidates' camps at polling stations and supply of refreshments and food packets to the counting agents inside the counting hall should also be extended to all either free of cost or on nominal charges.

The moot question is to ensure proper monitoring and accounting of all election-related expenses incurred by candidates and parties. As for the distinction between recognized and unrecognized parties, the primary advantage accruing to the former is reservation of election symbol. A party securing state-level recognition should automatically enjoy the facility of a reserved symbol for at least two successive general elections not only to State Assemblies and Parliament but also to institutions of local self-government all over the country.

Thanking you,

Yours truly,


(Dipankar Bhattacharya)

General Secretary