With the electoral bonds issue becoming a hot potato in the Lok Sabha elections, Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Wednesday hit back at the Congress party, demanding that Rahul Gandhi should explain the alleged ₹1,600-crore “hafta vasooli” (extortion) by his party.

Speaking at a private function, Amit Shah also contended that the striking down of electoral bonds by the Supreme Court would bring back black money into electoral politics. “The Supreme Court’s decision is binding on all citizens and I respect their verdict on electoral bonds. But my personal opinion is that bonds had almost ended black money in politics. This is why the entire INDIA bloc, led by Rahul Gandhi, was against the bonds and they wanted the old system of cut money to rule over politics once again,” the senior BJP leader stated.

Countering the charge that the BJP had used electoral bonds to amass funds, Shah said he disagreed with Gandhi’s usage of “hafta vasooli” to describe the bonds and sought to know how the Congress managed to get ₹1,600 crore through the scheme.

“We have been accused that we got a lot of money via bonds but so did the INDIA bloc. We have 303 seats, 17 governments, party units in every state. In 2019, we got a sizeable proportion of funds in bonds when the model code of conduct was in place and no new schemes or policies could be announced. We got more than 90 per cent of funds in bonds after the MCC was imposed. So the argument that it was affecting government’s policies is false,” he stated.

On the pre-bond arrangement, the Minister said that donations in the past were in cash. “So suppose a person gave ₹1,500, then ₹100 would go to the party fund and the rest would go in the party leader’s pocket. Once bonds came, this entire amount would be transferred to the party fund via cheque. This is not what the INDIA bloc was used to. They didn’t care if money was spent on party’s works or elections, but their generations should live well,” he charged.

The BJP leader from Gujarat said his party believed in transparency but sought a confidentiality clause in the electoral bonds to protect corporates from being hounded. “In 2014, BJP got 81 per cent donations in cash wherein the donor was not known. In 2018, this number dipped to 17 per cent. In 2023, it was only 3 per cent. So far as confidentiality is concerned, we have a federal structure and wanted to avoid a situation where a state government becomes vindictive towards someone who doesn’t give funds to them. So, the confidentiality clause was introduced. We believe in being transparent,” he remarked.