Oppose the intervention of the Election Commission, the judiciary, or any other authority

Saying that it was their prerogative to announce plans and programmes and make promises in a democracy, most of the national and regional political parties have opposed the intervention of the Election Commission, the judiciary, or any other authority in their announcing freebies in election manifestos.

Representatives of six national and 24 regional parties were participating in a meeting held by Chief Election Commissioner V.S. Sampath here on Monday on formulation of guidelines for election manifestos.

The Supreme Court, in its July 5, 2013, verdict, said promises of freebies made by political parties in their manifestos would not come under “corrupt practices” and “electoral offences” under the Representation of the People Act, 1951.

Talking to journalists after the all-party meeting, the BJP’s Ravi Shankar Prasad said every political party had the right to put forth its vision in its manifesto on what kind of nation it wanted. “It is the right of the public to decide which political party can run the nation honestly.” The EC, he said, should instead take effective steps to curb the abuse of money power.

According to CPI national secretary D. Raja it was the prerogative of political parties to work out and announce their programmes, policies and promises and it would not be in the interest of democracy and free and fair polls if any authority intervened.

CPI (M) senior leader A.K. Padmanabhan said his party was against any form of intervention by any authority, agency or body in the formulation of the ideology, aims, policies, programmes of the political parties. “The democratic polity of India is based on political party system and free and fair elections,” he said.

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