Electoral bond scheme designed to favour ruling party, need transparency: Cong


PTI, Jul 15, 2023, 8:46 AM IST

The Congress on Friday alleged that the electoral bond scheme was designed to favour the ruling party and demanded a transparent system of electoral funding.

Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera said more than 52 per cent of the BJP’s political donations of Rs 5,271.97 crore between FY 2016-17 and FY 2021-22 came from electoral bonds as against Rs 1,783.93 crore received by all other national parties according to a new report by the NGO Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR).

”This effectively implies that the Modi government’s controversial, corrupt and contrived electoral bonds scheme is a money whitening scheme, which converts black money to white,” he told a press conference. ”Cash, crony capitalism and corruption is the new ‘chal, charitr and chehra’ of the BJP,” Khera alleged.

The Congress has been opposing the electoral bond scheme and alleging that it has brought opacity in electoral funding.

The electoral bond scheme was introduced through a money bill in January 2017 for the purpose of electoral funding and was passed in Parliament without the Rajya Sabha having the power to reject or amend it.

”This was an assault on the spirit of the Constitution,” Khera alleged.

According to the amendments brought through the Act, political parties are not required to mention names and addresses of those contributing by way of electoral bonds. This had made electoral funding even more opaque, the Congress has alleged.

The electoral bonds scheme has since been challenged in the Supreme Court by several people including ADR and some others, but the apex court is yet to give a final view on the matter.

The Congress, Khera said, wants a transparent system of electoral funding. ”We will keep on exposing the corporate money greed of the Modi government and the BJP,” he added.

He said earlier a company could not donate more than 7.5 per cent of its net profit for three years. But the BJP government removed this limit. Now there is no need for any company to tell how much amount was given to whom.

”When such huge benami money comes into the account of a party, it becomes clear how black money is converted into white. PM Modi and Amit Shah ji, You ended the limit on corporate donations under electoral bonds. Didn’t this act legalise crony capitalism? Congress wants a transparent system of this election funding,” he said.

Khera claimed that these bonds made electoral funding non-transparent and the Election Commission, Supreme Court, RBI all had objections against these bonds. But it was passed like a money bill. ”Through this one money bill, BJP did the work of buying MLAs and toppling governments,” he alleged.

He claimed that in two financial years, as much as ”Rs 5,200 crore came in the coffers of the ruling party through electoral bonds”, without any questions and without the country getting to know what is the quid pro quo. ”Who did you get this from? Why did you get this money? What did you give in return? But, no answers.” ”You add the money received by all other political parties and then you compare that to what the BJP received; the BJP is three times higher.

”You have legitimised crony capitalism through these electoral bond schemes. You have legitimized rent seeking by the government. This electoral bond scheme is nothing else than that,” he said.

”The Congress Party stands absolutely opposed to this opaque system of electoral funding. We had given some very constructive suggestions not just in our manifesto of 2019, we also repeated, reiterated, and elaborated in our 85th Plenary Session in Raipur, this year. We stand by that and we will expose whenever we get a chance, we will expose this crony capitalism of the BJP,” Khera alleged.

The Congress in its 2019 Lok Sabha manifesto and the 85th Plenary Session in Raipur earlier this year promised to scrap the opaque electoral bond scheme that is designed to favour the ruling party, he said. ”Instead, we promised to set up a national election fund to which any person may contribute,” he said.

The Congress leader added that the funds will be allocated at the time of elections to recognised political parties in accordance with criteria laid down by law. ”We believe that the electoral bond scheme results in financial monopoly of the ruling party on electoral funding and is detrimental to creating a level-playing field, which is a prerequisite of a thriving democracy,” Khera noted. ”Destroying democracy, discarding transparency and demolishing electoral practices is the sole objective of the Modi government,” he alleged. In his view, the electoral bonds scheme imposes an uneven burden on institutions such as the State Bank of India (SBI) that are expected to remain impartial implementers. But in reality, he claimed, they would succumb to political pressures. Moreover, while electoral bonds provide no details to the citizens, the said anonymity does not apply to the government of the day, which can always access the donor details by demanding data from the SBI, Khera argued.

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