Electoral bonds injurious to democracy: Yechury

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 09, 2018 Published on January 09, 2018

Calling for a “deeper debate” on electoral reforms, the CPI(M) has termed the newly introduced electoral bonds a “regressive move”.

In a letter to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said the Centre’s measures such as the electoral bonds and FCRA amendments have reversed the steps towards transparent and clean political funding.

The electoral bonds are “deeply regressive” and make the donor, the donee and the amount a state secret. “This shields donors from the gaze of the electorate which needs to know if policies are being made precisely because it helps certain influential donors,” Yechury said.

He said by lifting the maximum limit on companies available for political donations, the Centre raised the prospect of allowing ‘shell’ companies being set up with black money to purely fund political parties. “This is a step that is also seriously injurious to the state of our democracy,” he said.

He further said the amendments to FCRA through the Finance Bill made it possible for foreign companies to “flood the coffers” of political parties. “We are deeply concerned about the measures put in place by this government to render the funding of political parties even more opaque than before. What it does is to provide an ‘electoral bonds route' for dubious funds to pass, unrecorded and undeclared, shielded from the public eye, to certain political parties,” he said.

Yechury added that electoral bonds, along with the amendments to the FCRA and the lifting of the maximum limit that corporates can contribute to political parties, are the most retrogressive steps taken towards political funding in India and must be rolled back. “We urge your government to review and immediately reconsider these measures which constitute making political funding a black box which has no scope public scrutiny,” he said.

He maintained that the CPI(M) has stood for the need for clean electoral funding, and has been deeply concerned over the years as the system has become more skewed towards those with more money. “Contesting elections has now become akin to a business enterprise, possible only for the wealthy. This needs stringent reform,” he said.

“Political parties too, on being recipient of corporate funding, use stints in government to make policies that suit ‘friendly’ corporates. These corporates constitute the ‘supply side’ of corruption, which is corroding our system. Unless corporate funding is banned, this problem cannot be solved,” he added.

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Published on January 09, 2018
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