Last-ditch attempt to hide Modi’s real face before polls: Rahul Gandhi on SBI moving SC on electoral bonds

PTI, Mar 5, 2024, 8:20 AM IST

Rahul Gandhi (Credit: PTI / File)

New Delhi: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday slammed the government over the State Bank of India moving the Supreme Court seeking an extension of time to disclose electoral bond details, terming it a “last-ditch attempt” before the Lok Sabha polls to hide Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “real face”.

The State Bank of India (SBI) on Monday moved the Supreme Court seeking an extension of time till June 30 to disclose details of each electoral bond encashed by political parties. In its verdict last month, the top court directed the SBI to furnish the details to the poll panel by March 6.

In a post in Hindi on X, Gandhi said, “Narendra Modi has put his entire force in order to hide the ‘donation business’.”

“When the Supreme Court has stated that it is the right of the people of the country to know the truth about electoral bonds, then why does the SBI not want this information to be made public before the elections?” the former Congress chief said.

Asking for time till June 30 to provide information that can be retrieved in one click shows that the whole matter is fishy, he claimed.

“Every independent organization of the country is becoming part of the ‘Modani family’ in trying to cover up their corruption,” Gandhi alleged, adding, “This is the ‘last ditch attempt’ to hide Modi’s ‘real face’ before the elections.”

Congress general secretary in-charge communications Jairam Ramesh also slammed the government over the issue.

“Aap chronology samjhiye: first elections, then disclosure of electoral bonds. What makes the ruling party so nervous about revealing the source of its bottomless campaign finance coffers?” he asked in a post on X.

“Remember that the analysis of direct campaign donations and electoral trust donations revealed that 30 plus firms that had been raided by the ED/IT/CBI donated Rs 335 crore to the BJP after the raids. The BJP got the majority (60 plus %) of its campaign funds from electoral bonds. What ill-deeds of the Modi Sarkar will the disclosure of the electoral bonds funds reveal?” Ramesh posed.

In an application filed before the top court, SBI contended that retrieval of information from “each silo” and the procedure of matching the information of one silo to that of the other would be a time-consuming exercise.

The plea submitted that due to stringent measures undertaken to ensure that the identity of the donors was kept anonymous, “decoding” the electoral bonds and matching donors to the donations made would be a complex process.

“It is submitted that the data related to the issuance of the bond and the data related to the redemption of the bond was kept recorded in two different silos. No central database was maintained. This was done to ensure that donors’ anonymity would be protected.

“It is submitted that donor details were kept in a sealed cover at the designated branches and all such sealed covers were deposited in the main branch of the applicant bank, which is located in Mumbai,” the plea said.

In a landmark judgement that delivered a big blow to the government, the Supreme Court on February 15 annulled the electoral bonds scheme for political funding, saying it violates the Constitutional right to freedom of speech and expression as well as the right to information.

In its verdict months ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, the apex court ordered SBI to disclose to the Election Commission the names of the contributors to the six-year-old scheme.

A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud directed that the SBI must disclose details of each electoral bond encashed by political parties. The information should include the date of encashment and the denomination of the bonds and be submitted to the poll panel by March 6.

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