The Election Commission on Tuesday proposed that political parties should declare what the promises made in their manifestos would cost the exchequer and how they intended on paying for them, if elected to power.
The Election Commission wrote in a letter to the heads of all recognised national and State parties about its proposal to amend the Model Code of Conduct guidelines to include the financial ramifications of promises in their manifestos. It sought the parties’ views by October 19.
“While the existing guidelines under MCC require the political parties and candidates to explain the rationale for promises made therein as well as the possible ways and means to finance such promises, the Commission found that the declarations are quite routine, ambiguous and do not provide adequate information to voters to exercise informed choice in an election,” the Commission’s letter stated.
It said most of the parties did not submit these declarations in time. It added that while the EC was “agnostic to the nature of promises”, it was imperative to frame the disclosure requirements in order to have free and fair elections.
It proposed to supplement the existing MCC guidelines and “mandate political parties to inform voters at large about financial ramifications of their promises in manifesto as against well-defined quantifiable parameters”.
The EC proposed introducing two forms for the parties to submit the details, one with the information of extent of coverage and the likely expenditure, and the second with details of sources of revenue and impact on the fiscal sustainability of the state or Union government. The second form would also have details of the revenue receipts and expenditure of the state or Union government provided by the Chief Secretary or Union Finance Secretary.
According to a source, the Commission, comprising Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar and Election Commissioner Anup Chandra Pandey, decided at a meeting last week that the EC could not overlook the impact of some promises on the conduct of free and fair elections and a level playing field for all.