The role and importance of political parties have long been established while framing regulations in political party financing is a recent development. The need for such regulations is felt due to the changing conditions in which parties exercised their activities over the recent decades. Parties in contemporary democracies need substantial funding to carry out their core activities which should be seen as necessary and unavoidable costs of democracy.
While political funding is a necessary component for political parties to play their role in the democratic process, transparency and openness in financing of political parties is the cornerstone of a well-functioning and healthy democracy. Absence of disclosure of sources of party funds facilitates corruption and gives rise to quid pro quo between big donors and politicians. Countries where parties or political leadership are overly reliant on funding from a chosen few donors, policy decisions are co-opted. The level-playing field gets grossly imbalanced when one party has a monopolistic stranglehold on political funding and campaign finance in the electoral battlefield.
In case of India, recent political finance ‘reforms’ have done little to make parties accountable for the money they receive and have instead legitimized opacity. In the name of ‘transparency’ in political funding, India is actually headed in the opposite direction. Thus, the objective of this webinar is to look into the current political finance regime in India, the rules regulating it, prevailing challenges and the impact of an ineffective regulatory framework. The idea is to discuss some possible measures to enhance transparency and accountability in political financing and to restore the health of India’s electoral politics.
Moderator: Dr Ajit Ranade, Founder Member and Trustee of ADR
Ms Khushbu Agrawal, Programme Officer at International IDEA
Prof M.V. Rajeev Gowda, National Spokesperson, All India Congress Committee (AICC); former Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha, from Karnataka
Mr Prashant Bhushan, Senior Lawyer, Supreme Court of India
Mr J. S. Saharia, IAS (Retd), Chairman, International Society for Human Awakening & Development (ISHAD); former Chief Secretary & former State Election Commissioner, Maharashtra
Prof Rahul Verma, Fellow at the Centre for Policy Research; Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science, Ashoka University
Mr Maneesh Chhibber, Senior Journalist
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