Jammu Tawi, May 1
RTI activist and State Coordinator ADR Balvinder Singh and Deepak Sharma represented J&K in the three days 13th National Conference on ‘Electoral and Political Reforms’ organised by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and Punjab and Haryana Election Watch in Punjab University, Chandigarh. The conference started with the inaugural speech of Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Dr Nasim Zaidi. He appreciated the ongoing efforts of ADR and National Election Watch (NEW) in carrying forward the civil society movement for electoral and political reforms. While addressing the audience, he stated that the Election Commission of India (ECI) has completed a study on data needs of the Commission and an analytics roadmap has been prepared based on best practices adopted by several leading electoral management bodies. This roadmap is likely to be implemented in one year time frame and this will integrate all kinds of databases in the Commission.Zaidi further said that amendments to the Companies Act of 2013, removing cap on corporate contribution to political parties, are “basically hitting” transparency in funding.
Maharashtra State Election Commissioner, J S Saharia informed about the initiatives adopted by the Maharashtra State Election Commission for increasing voter awareness and tournout during municipal corporation, Zila Panchayat and Panchayat Samiti elections in Maharastra during 2017.
State coordinators of ADR from different States discussed on issues concerning electoral and political reforms which include Transparency in political financing, State funding of political parties, Criminalization of politics and Impact of media on elections and Governance.
On increasing opacity in political financing, Manish Tiwari, former Union Minister suggested that to bring transperancy in funding every donation made to political parties should be linked to Aadhar, so that tracking of the donation could be made possible. He also suggested that to maintain transparency in funding, the political parties should be made accountable under Right to Information Act. During the conference various eminent media personalities also spoke on ‘Impact of Media on Election and Governance’. Books on Mid-Term National Voter Survey, 2017 and Combined Analysis of 5 State Assembly Elections, 2017, were also released during the conference.