One party has access to 90% of poll funds: Manmohan

State funding can provide a level playing field, says former PM
There is a need to discuss state funding for elections at a time when a single party has access to 90% of the election funds, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Sunday at the birth centenary celebrations of CPI leader Indrajit Gupta. Referring to the report on electoral funding published by a parliamentary committee chaired by Indrajit Gupta, which argued for state funding to provide a level playing field, Dr. Singh said, “Today, when only one party has access to 90% of the election funds, such ideas need to be discussed and deliberated.” He said it was the beauty of the Indian democracy that ideological difference did not deter anyone from celebrating the life of an opponent. “Having spent a large part of his public life in the Opposition, Indrajit ji knew that without an Opposition, democracy has no soul,” Dr. Singh said. Indrajit Gupta had been a parliamentarian for 37 years from 1960 till his death in 2001. UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, who could not attend the event, sent out a written message which was read out by Dr. Singh. CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury recalled anecdotes about Indrajit Gupta and described him as a stickler for norms of governance. Mr. Yechury recalled that he had asked Indrajit Gupta during his 18-month stint as Home Minister to declassify papers on the Communist movement in India. “I got a tongue lashing. He said norms of governance can’t be violated under any circumstances,” he said. He also flagged the need to have state funding. “The exploitation of poor will only increase by the corporates because after all it’s their money that’s funding one party,” he said.

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