Electoral Bonds are a ‘fraud’ by BJP and PM, says Congress

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on November 20, 2019

Accuses the ruling party and the PM of creating extra window for sale of electoral bonds to the BJP

The Congress on Wednesday accused the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of floating the electoral bonds scheme to receive secret donations from big business houses.

In a statement, Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Adhir Ranjan Choudhury and Randeep Singh Surjewala said the ruling party bypassed the RBI and the Election Commission to amass a total of ₹6,128 crore worth of electoral bonds since March 2018. The Congress leaders cited documents accessed through RTI to assert that an extra window for sale of electoral bonds was created on two occasions — before the Karnataka Assembly elections in May 2018 and once again before the Assembly elections in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Rajasthan and Telangana in November-December 2018, to garner funds from corporate houses.

The Congress leaders said electoral bonds is a “fraud” because neither the donor nor the recipient political party need to disclose the source of funds and unlimited amount of money can be donated without any accountability. The Congress leaders cited communication between Prime Minister’s Office and Finance Ministry accessed by transparency activist Commodore Lokesh Batra (Retd) which revealed that the PMO directed the Finance Ministry to open extra windows for political donations via electoral bonds. This was, said the Congress leaders, in direct violation of the precaution against money laundering by allowing only limited sale periods for the sale of electoral bonds. The RBI had initially recommended that the bonds only be sold twice a year for a short duration.

“RTI documents now prove that the RBI and ECI were bypassed by the Modi government. The RBI objected to the electoral bond scheme by stating that it would encourage money laundering and violate the spirit of Prevention of Money Laundering Act. Undermine faith in bank notes issued by RBI and the identity of the donor donating money to the political party will be unknown. The RBI’s objections were, of course, rejected, in the year 2017 by the Finance Ministry and the RBI was bypassed,” said the Congress leaders in a statement.

“Election Commission objected to the electoral bonds as this would end transparency of donations. It would lead to increased use of black money for political funding through shell companies and removal of 7.5 per cent limit of average net profits for contribution by companies to political parties will lead to the possibility of shell companies being set up for the sole purpose of making donation to political parties,” the Congress leaders added.

RTI documents, that the Congress quoted, established that 95 per cent of the first tranche of electoral bonds issued in March 2018 went to the BJP.

“Finance Ministry wanted to issue the electoral bonds before the Karnataka Assembly elections of May 2018. Accordingly, a note was put up on April 3, 2018 for amending the electoral bond scheme for issuing the bonds before the Assembly elections. The Secretary (Economic Affairs) SC Garg rejected the proposed amendment by stating that “(a) the meaning being given by way of amendment to the electoral bond scheme for its issuance before assembly elections is incorrect and (b) There will be several exceptions every year is bonds were to be issued before every assembly election,” said the Congress statement, citing file notings underlining that this particular suggestion by the Finance Ministry official was rejected.

Published on November 20, 2019

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