Millennium Post

Parties can no longer make tall pledges on freebies in manifestos

Political parties can no longer make tall promises on freebies in their election manifestos as they will now have to explain the rationale of their pledges and ways and means of meeting the financial requirements.

This follows an Election Commission move to create a level-playing field before elections following directions from the Supreme Court.

In fresh guidelines to political parties on poll manifestos, the Election Commission has asked them not to make such promises that disturb the level-playing field and vitiate the atmosphere or exert undue influence on voters.

‘Trust of voters should be sought only on those promises which are possible to be fulfilled,’ the Commission said.

The Supreme Court had noted in its 5 July, 2013 verdict that though promises in election manifesto cannot be construed as a corrupt practice as per law, the distribution of freebies of any kind ‘influences’ all people.

‘It shakes the root of free and fair elections to a large degree,’ the SC held, asking the poll body to ensure level playing field between contesting parties and candidates in elections and see that purity of election process does not get vitiated.

While issuing the guidelines after incorporating views of political parties during their meeting with them on 7 February, the poll body included them in the Model Code of Conduct.

The poll body said the manifesto shall not contain anything repugnant to the ideals and principles enshrined in the Constitution and that it shall be consistent with the letter and spirit of other provisions of the Model Code.

Meanwhile, figures released by the Election Commission show that the electorate was 17.3212343 crore in 1951-52 and now for the general elections scheduled in April-May, it is 81.4591184 crore, which is a 4.7-fold increase.

Since last general elections in 2009, the total number of electors in the country has grown by around 9.7606083 crore. In 2009, the number of voters was 71.6985101 crore.
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