As the freebies or “revdi” debate rages, the Election Commission plans to soon float a consultation paper which proposes that political parties detail the cost of promises made ahead of Assembly or national polls and also juxtapose the state of their finances giving voters some idea about how these could be financed.
Cognisant of the fact that there is no legislative space to define freebies or welfare — even as the Supreme Court is hearing the freebies petition — the Election Commission wants political parties to elaborate on the rationale for announcing such promises and the financing plan.
Sources in the Election Commission said that while political parties can’t be stopped from making promises, the voter too has a right to be informed to make an informed choice.
Hence the ECI has sought elaborate disclosures by parties and the state government or the Central government. This is expected to let voters compare political parties and understand if the promises can indeed be met.
The ECI has proposed that each state chief secretary and the Union finance secretary — whenever or wherever the elections are held — provide details of tax and expenditure in a specified format.
“The idea is to make a physical and financial quantification of promise… if it’s a farm loan waiver, then will it be available to all farmers, or only small and marginal farmers, etc. Further, how will it be funded given the committed and developmental expenditure set aside by the state or the Centre,” a source said.
The ECI hopes to call parties for consultation on the paper, before it can make necessary changes in the Model Code of Conduct ahead of elections.
Sources said the MCC period may also be advanced, and need not necessarily have to wait for the ECI to announce the polling schedule. The plan is to bring the topic of financing schemes and prudence into the political discourse.