The Policy Framework for Electoral and Political Reform .

The Rising India Party’s proposed Policy Framework for Electoral and Political Reform in India has the following core and key components for the public to consider, discuss, add or subtract, and approve:

  1. The Rising India party proposes that India move to policy that is based on a mixed funding model that involves part Public or State Funding and access to unlimited Private Funding by its members or private entities.
  2. A political party would have to have been in existence as a registered entity with the election commission for two years to qualify for Public or State funding.
  3. During this period, it should have demonstrated that its membership has increased substantially to be not less than 10,000.
  4. Alternatively, it can qualify for State funds when its membership exceeds 10,000 regardless of period in existence.
  5. The State will set a modest annual budget to be used to fund all registered political parties through an assessment and evaluation system.
  6. The State may consider levying a 0.5% surcharge on all tax collections to fund this process from the public tax-payer pool.
  7. The quantum of State Funds to be provided a registered party would have the following evaluation components:
    1. Number of provable members through ID and random address verification by the election commission; the higher the membership, the higher the funds provided by the State.
    2. All parties to submit a balance sheet of its annual collections and expenditure listing all salaried staff for the administration of the party.
    3. Membership fee collections and donation proof assessment.
    4. Proof of organizational structure as a functioning entity and not just paper filing.
    5. Proof of party functioning through internal democracy elections, minutes of meetings held at all levels of the party’s declared hierarchy.
    6. TO BE ADDED
  8. All public donations, no matter how small, must be duly receipted with full details of the contributor via election ID, Aadhar or other acceptable ID such as driver’s license etc. to prevent any falsification of sources of money.
  9. All these details would be data protected.
  10. These will be tabled in complete secrecy with the election commission which will keep these isolated with restricted access in the concerned Party’s file with extremely restricted access to officials on a need to know basis
  11. The Party’s activities in the public domain will be tabled and scrutinized by the election commission.
  12. The concerned party’s agitations and public activities will be assessed by independent assessors comprising teams of members of the public picked at random from the socio-economic cross section with extra weightage to those from the poorer segments picked randomly from across India.
  13. Extremist positions on religious, caste, creed, special privileges, and other stipulated parameters will be grounds for reduced or nil State Funding.
  14. Public positions and policies that promote national integration, better inter-religious understanding and other positive public positions will attract higher State funding.
  15. All these points, and more as they emerge, will be factored in the State Funding paradigm on public discussion and inputs.
  16. Private Funding:  In addition to bidding for State Funds, all registered Parties would continue to be able to raise funds through its own sources on the following conditions:
    1. Private donors will need to provide acceptable identity proof
    2. All donations up to a preset amount, say Rs 5 Lakh would be tax deductible.
    3.  All donations above the preset amount will attract tax at 50% of the highest tax bracket at a given point of time; a reduced tax.
    4. All individuals or companies who donate above the preset amount, of Rs. 5 lakhs, would need to submit a short statement as to reasons for supporting the party and why a large sum is being given.
    5. If there is any vested interest, such as in a lobbying effort to influence or change a law, this will need to be declared as part of tax exemption claim.
    6. Should it alter emerge that the donation was a lobbying effort but was not declared, the donating company or party will be liable to prosecution by law.
    7. TO BE ADDED
  17. It would be mandatory for all Parties to have their books audited and will need to file their annual financial returns which shall be its tax returns.
  18. Political parties will be taxed at a concessional rate of say 5% or 10%.
  19. Political parties will need to have annual audits that would need to be placed before the public of the following parameters:
    1. Inner party democracy
    2. Report card on party’s annual activities throughout its geographic areas of operations.
    3. Issues of concerns for the party
    4. Its policy positions
    5. TO BE ADDED
  20. Any breach by any Party of laws of the nation, including fueling riots, public violence, threatening public officials, not filing their audited tax returns will result in kicking off an investigation by the election commission
  21. Such investigation would be along structured assessment lines as to its functioning.
  22. The results of such investigation will be tabled before an official panel comprised of the election commission, up to 3 executive committee members of the political party, 3 ordinary party members picked randomly by the election commission from the Party’s membership roll, and 3 members of the public from non-members
  23. This constituted body would be tasked to examine and debate the findings with the party leadership of which 3 senior decision maker members will need to be in attendance.
  24. If the results of this investigation / debate are found to be negative, the party will face a structured penalization based on three “clean up your act” notices and if the problem persists, the party can be deregistered.
  25. If a party is de registered, its entire leadership will be put through a punishment based on psychological assessments and treatment if so assessed.
  26. Punishment could include that they spend a preset time of full time social service under the supervision of nominated members of a low-income group community.
  27.  In case of criminal breach, all such will serve “Jail” time in open self-run Jails or traditional hard Jails as the case warrants.
  28. All Political parties will need to move to a system where they submit lists of its workers classed as full-time and part-time.
  29. All full-time workers must be on the party’s payroll and all applicable laws of the land would apply to its full-time workers such as Provident fund, ESI etc.
  30. Alternatively, in case the party workers, working full time or part time, and not drawing a salary the party will be required to seek for the concerned full time or voluntary worker to file proof that he / she has the means to sustain themselves in their livelihood.
  31. This could be either through income tax returns or other valid determining means such as parents or family, including earning spouse, certifying that he / she is adequately supported financially to be able to run a normal life from the income of the family.
  32. The financial determination will be based on whether the individual is single or married. If married, the concerned volunteer will need to submit proof that he / she is financially liquid and secure to run the family household.
  33. All Parties will need to file annual Activity Returns to the election commission that would have constituted Public Panels with minority representation of government nominated servants.

14.5    The criterion for State Funding would include the following:

  1. Size of provable membership – say over xxxxxxxx (To be defined)
  2. Geographical presence – say at least present throughout the State in (To be defined) number of districts; members and offices.
  3. Clearly set “development action agendas” within the Party Constitution with clear plans of action on how to meet and deliver these.
  4. Quality of leadership in terms of it’s credibility for integrity amongst the population segments and documented in past actions in personal or public lives.
  5. A provision should be made, in the interests of equity and to ensure openness, for funding, however small, for new Parties. This again can be within set criterion such as; identifying Public issues, proposing practical solutions, proof that enough members of the public support this effort, proof that none of the current parties are addressing or delivering these objectives etc.
  6. And similar other parameters that may need to be added.
  7. Private funding is allowed with strict guidelines which include:

    Full disclosure of source of fund
    If contribution is from a corporate or business entity full, disclosure is required what benefit, if any, it seeks to gain if the party gets elected, if such agenda exists
    or alternatively declare that the donation is because of what the party stands for and to strengthen that narrative and there is no quid quo pro position.

  8. In any event no narrow agenda if it is not in the public interest or one that conflicts with wider public interest can be expected to be pushed within the political process of a party, in or out of power.

  10. Indian politicians, once elected, are confident of being the rulers over the populace with no accountability to any one, least of all to the voters who elected them.
  11. For Indian politics to change and evolve into a story that has integrity, ethics and public service as its front-line, the electoral laws have to give the right to the public who elect their representatives to the Parliament and State Assemblies, the Right to Recall.
  12. Such a right will force the politicians to not make promises they have no intention of keeping and enforce public oversight and accountability leading to a far higher class of political discourse and narrative.
  13. The right to recall can be enforced under the following conditions:
    1. The elected politician has not been visible in the constituency after the elections.
    2. A minimum presence in days per annum would be stipulated that the elected representative is required to spend in his / her constituency
    3. This stipulation would be worked out taking into account the attendance required for Parliament or Assemblies as relevant.
    4. If the elected member is not working to the mandate he / she acquired from the public in his / her constituency.
    5. If more than some pre-stipulated voters who voted for the person sign a petition seeking recall giving reasons that are assessed as valid by the election commission
    6. TO BE ADDED
  14. While voting patterns in terms of percentage of the Indian population that turn up to vote on voting day is generally above 50%, it is the position of The Rising India Party that India should move to compulsory voting, i.e. everyone of voting age must vote.
  15. This would ensure the democratic tradition and thinking to be embedded in the entire population of the country.
  16. The Rising India party would put this proposition to a referendum vote alongside others after winning elections for the public to decide on such a policy.
  17. If the vote is a Yes vote, the constitution would be so amended.TO BE ADDED

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