CEC seeks power to deregister political parties

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Chennai, Aug 6 (UNI) The Election Commission should be empowered to deregister political parties not contesting elections for more than five years, Chief Election Commissioner N Gopalaswami has said.

Speaking at a lecture series on ''Electoral Democracy: the Context, Cost and Consequences'' organised by Scientific Research Association for Economics and Finance here, he said the Election Commission was only authorised to register political parties, but could not deregister them.

Deregistering political parties for not contesting elections for more than five years would curb ''proliferation'' of political outfits, he said and pointed out that a majority of the 967 political parties in the country were functioning only for gaining monetary benefits and to convert black money into white.

Citing the example of a political party which had received donations but was not conducting any political activity, Mr Gopalswami said though the upper ceiling limit for expenditure for a candidate was only Rs 10 lakh, some of them were found to spend even up to Rs five crore in the recent Karnataka Assembly polls.

''The Election Commission has been receiving three applications a week requesting for authorising parties. The role of money and muscle power is one of the growing complexity of elections in India. The EC had recently recovered Rs 45 crore worth of goods meant for distribution to voters,'' he added.

Calling for a fixed term for legislatures, decriminalisation of politics and compulsory voting as steps to ensure a free, fair and peaceful poll, the Election Commissioner said strengthening the election system itself was the need of the hour.

Later, talking to reporters, the CEC stressed the need for compulsory voting and said countries like Australia had already been effectively implementing it for a long time.

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