New op-ed: “Purify the Parties”

In a special New Year’s Eve address, Prime Minister Narendra Modi once again reiterated his desire to see election finance reform in India. This has been a regular theme in the PM’s speeches, dating back to the 2014 general election campaign. However, Modi’s rhetoric has intensified in the days and weeks following his government’s November 8, 2016 demonetization decision.

In the speech, Modi said:

Political parties, political leaders and electoral funding, figure prominently in any debate on corruption and black money. The time has now come that all political leaders and parties respect the feelings of the nation’s honest citizens, and understand the anger of the people.

It is true that from time to time, political parties have made constructive efforts to improve the system. I urge all parties and leaders to move away from a “holier than thou approach,” to come together in prioritising transparency, and take firm steps to free politics of black money and corruption.

All of this is well and good, but the PM unfortunately stopped short of outlining a detailed agenda for reform. In a new Indian Express column, I outline a four-point reform proposal that I argue Modi should adopt immediately. It would begin to cleanse India’s system of political funding while also placing the opposition on the back foot. In the piece, I write:

While we will continue to debate the merits of demonetisation, the government has repeatedly signalled it will stay the course. The question is: Will it eventually summon the same fortitude when it comes to closing the loopholes from which political actors derive undue benefit? Fresh moves aimed at the political class will inevitably create disruption, including for the ruling party, but it will engender massive popular support. It will show the entire country that no one is truly immune from the cleansing. The ball is in the government’s court.

You can read the piece in its entirety here.