Tuesday, October 5, 2021

500+ political parties registered in two years

EC seeks Power to re-register, Money laundering suspected

Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group
New Delhi, Oct 4

The Election Commission is extremely worried over the mushrooming of political parties as more than 500 such outfits have sprung up during the past two years.

The EC has written to the government to seek powers to deregister them. What has made EC worried is that these have cropped up after the 2019-Lok Sabha polls and they came up between April 2019 and August 2021. In addition, more than 100 new political outfits have applied for registration in the past two months alone.

These are registered political parties but not recognized parties. More than 2700 parties are registered and most of them are defunct. There are eight recognized national and over 50 state parties. Others are registered parties but unrecognized and their number is rising rapidly.

The EC cannot refuse to register political parties. But it wants to de-register such parties who have no activity worth a salt. A senior EC official said it had come to the notice of the government and the Commission that some of the parties were used for money laundering as they are exempted from income tax. At times, large parties use the infrastructure of these registered parties during campaigning.

It is in this background that the EC has sought power to deregister defunct political parties as they enjoy tax exemption on donations. They can take donations below Rs 2000 in cash and submit a report to the ECI. Though rules have been tightened lately. The Act exempts parties’ income from house property, voluntary contributions, other sources and capital gains. The Commission has the power to delist parties under Article 324 of the Constitution but it cannot deregister dormant parties. From February 2016 to December 2016, the ECI had delisted 255 registered unrecognised political parties.