Opposition wants JPC to probe electoral bonds ‘scam’

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on November 21, 2019

Congress MPs addressing media at Parliament on electoral bond issue in New Delhi on Thursday   -  Sandeep Saxena

Piyush Goyal trashes Congress’ claims, says concerns of EC, RBI addressed

The new revelations on electoral bonds, based on documents accessed through RTI, have rocked both the Houses of Parliament here on Thursday. The Opposition raised it in Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha and demanded formation of a Joint Parliamentary Committee to probe the “scam.”

Congress spokesperson and Lok Sabha member Manish Tewari told reporters that successive governments ensured that the country’s political financing system is kept as free from influence of corporates as possible, but in 2017, in the guise of Finance Bill without a structured discussion, the Narendra Modi government smuggled “anonymous opaque electoral bonds” into the country’s system.

“The question is that there’s a perception that the system can be rigged and that undermines the faith of people in democracy. Here there’s empirical evidence that the system can be manipulated to one’s advantage,” Tewari said.

Cong walks out

The Congress has demanded that there should be a full-fledged political discussion on the issue.

“We are fully cognisant of the fact that the matter is sub judice. Parliament is the appropriate forum to discuss the damage these forms are doing to our democracy, we’d also like to urge the Supreme Court to expeditiously hear this matter,” the former Minister said.

Earlier Tewari raised the issue during the Zero Hour in Lok Sabha, but when he referred to the role of the Prime Minister’s Office citing documents, Speaker Om Birla turned his mike off. The Congress members protested at this point and party’s president Sonia Gandhi led the Opposition to walk out of the House.

In Rajya Sabha too, the Opposition demanded a discussion on election bonds. They started protests saying that Chairman Venkaiah Naidu denied permission to raise the matter.

The House got adjourned till 12 pm on the matter.

BJP rubbishes charges

Meanwhile, the BJP on Thursday defended electoral bonds as a right step towards transparency and “clean” funding of elections.

Addressing a press conference at the BJP headquarters, the Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal said detailed discussions were held with the Election Commission and the Reserve Bank of India and their concerns were adequately addressed.

The Minister underlined that it was a step towards introducing clean money in politics and only the corrupt are opposed to it.

“For the first time, we put a stop to corruption and black money being pumped into politics. The Congress is steeped in corruption, from Bofors to Coalgate and with their Prime Minister going with suitcases full of cash, Congress is a metaphor for corruption. Cash worth crores has been found in senior Congress leaders’ homes. They have used black money for a long time. We are the only party which has acted against black money and promoted transparency and clean money,” he said.

The Minister asserted that this is the first time that donors, whose KYC norms have been verified by the SBI, channel money legally to political parties.

Published on November 21, 2019

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