Congress Dubs Electoral Bond Scheme ‘Money Whitening’, Says BJP Got Rs 5,271.97 Crore

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NEW DELHI — The Congress on Friday lambasted the BJP government at the Centre over the Electoral Bond Scheme and called it a “money whitening” scheme, used by the current dispensation to convert black money into white.

Addressing a press conference at the party headquarters here, Congress leader Pawan Khera alleged that the saffron party received funds through electoral bonds to the tune of Rs 5,271.97 crore between 2016-17 to 2021-22.

Quoting the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) report, he said, “More than 52 per cent of BJP’s political donations, worth Rs 5,271.97 crore, came from electoral bonds as against Rs 1,783.93 crore received by all other national political parties, between FY 2016-17 and FY 2021-22.” 

The Congress leader said that this effectively implies that Modi government’s controversial, corrupt and contrived electoral bonds scheme is a money whitening scheme, which converts black money to white.

It is a perfect way of legitimate, state-sponsored rent seeking and corruption, he added.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha manifesto and the 85th Plenary Session in Raipur held earlier this year, the grand-old party had promised to scrap the opaque Electoral Bond Scheme that is designed to favour the ruling party.

“Instead, we have promised to set up a National Election Fund to which any person may contribute. Funds will be allocated at the time of elections to recognised political parties in accordance with criteria laid down by law,” Khera said.

He also said that Congress believes that the electoral bond scheme results in the financial monopoly of the ruling party on electoral funding and is a detrimental to create a level-playing field, which is a prerequisite of a thriving democracy.

“But Modi government has made ‘Electoral Bond Scheme’ a lovechild of corruption and crony capitalism, stigmatizing our ‘mother of democracy’,” he alleged.

He said that on January 7, 2017, two months after the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, addressing the national executive meeting of the BJP in Delhi, said there was a need to make political funding more transparent and that his party was in favour of electoral reforms.

He further said that following which, his government has introduced that any company can donate any amount of money to any political party and any individual, group of people or company can donate money anonymously to any party through the electoral bonds scheme.

Firing salvos at the government, Khera asked, “Why did the electoral bonds scheme become another disaster for Indian politics as the then Finance Minister Arun Jaitley introduced ‘The Finance Act 2017’, which introduced the system of electoral bonds for the purpose of electoral funding, it was bulldozed and passed in the Parliament as a Money Bill under Article 110 –
which the Rajya Sabha has no power to reject or amend – was an assault on the spirit of the Constitution.”

He said that Justice D.Y. Chandrachud (as he then was), in his dissent in the Aadhaar review case, (Beghar Foundation v. Justice KS Puttuswamy (Ret’d)) has categorically pointed out that the Rajya Sabha’s role in lawmaking is vital, and ignoring its authority undermines democracy and constitutes a fraud on the Constitution. Passing a Bill as a Money Bill when it doesn’t qualify as one damages the balance of bicameralism in the Constitution.

He also said that the amendments brought through the Act do not require political parties to mention the names and addresses of those contributing by way of electoral bonds in their contribution reports filed with the Election Commission or the Income Tax, annually.

“This will have a major implication on transparency in political party finances and will fundamentally alter the perception around political donations,” he pointed out.

He also said that is it not a fact that Modi government’s Electoral Bonds Scheme has resulted in elimination of the cap on corporate giving, the dropping of the requirement that firms disclose political giving on their financial statements, enabled moneyed interests to legally give unlimited
sums to the ruling party, which, in turn, can accept unlimited sums of money – all without having to disclose a single rupee?

“Given that the case is now in the Supreme Court and that in January, the Supreme Court has separated various petitions on electoral funding, what reason will the Modi Govt give to the court on bulldozing every institution – the Parliament, the RBI, the ECI, the CIC et al, to demolish Democracy. Indian National Congress wants a transparent system of Electoral funding.
We will keep on exposing the Corporate money greed of the Modi Govt and the BJP,” he asked. — IANS

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