Mayawati’s confession – is “money for ticket” illegal?

It wasn't really a well-kept secret, but it was hailed as a bold confession when BSP iron lady Mayawati said she has been taking money for party tickets.

“Since many rich persons were keen to contest on our party ticket, I see nothing wrong in taking some contribution for them after all, I use the money to enable poor and economically weak Dalit candidates to contest.”

What does this mean? That suitability takes a backseat when a candidate offers boatload of money for tickets? A debate on whether this qualifies as a corrupt practice or not is beyond this blog. But I thought let me check if this qualifies as an “illegal” activity. My only tool – the website of election commission of India.

How does this fit with Election Commission’s code of conduct? These apply to political parties. But the guidelines only cover campaigning and actual polling, basically activities after the elections are announced. Though, while going through this document I did notice how blatantly everyone violates code of conduct #3: “There shall be no appeal to caste or communal feelings for securing votes”. Tell me you haven’t heard the word “Dalit” in Mayawati’s election speeches. And tell me if the word “Dalit” refers to a “caste or community”. Anyways, back to the main topic.

They have a FAQ about registration of political parties. In here too, I did not find references to any “code of ethics” like document for political parties. Nothing in this FAQ says a political party is supposed to provide annual expense reports to the commission.

While on ECI website, I found this page with some more statistics. Looks like the parties are required to provide expense details for every elections they participate in. So I looked at BSP’s expense report for Assembly elections 2005. Looks like they are not required to furnish details of donations received. They just provide a lump sum, like BSP did:

Total Receipts from all sources from date of announcement to 23.11.2005 (date of completion of election):

(a) Donation etc. , received in cash Rs. 2,10,00,000.00

(b) Amount received by cheque/ DD etc. Rs. 59,04,114.00

Total Rs. 2,69,04,114.00

Seems like these parties are also required to submit regular reports on contributions received. This is done under the terms of “Section 29C of representation of the people act 1951”. This report of contributions for 2003-2004 does not have BSP in there, I have no idea why.

Investigation closed. There is only so much that is transparent about the political parties right now. No one really cares whether their accounts are transparent. However, the good news is, proposed electoral reforms try this. See item number 9 of this document.

Till these reforms come through, we have no option but to rely on these random confessions to understand the details of donations to political parties like Mayawati's.

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