Electoral bonds were a strategically maneuvered scheme to promote transparency in political funding, but the donation went up to show BJP’s anonymous influx of black money funding.
The revelation of electoral bond scam blew up the ongoing winter session of the Indian Parliament. The opposition is staunchly protesting against BJP in Parliament. The ruling government is accused of twisting and breaking its laws for electoral benefits.
A recent investigation by HuffPost India and Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) report (Political Parties declaration of funds to Election Commission of India) reveal that BJP is the biggest beneficiary of the electoral bonds. Indian corporates overwhelmingly support BJP.
The ruling party with a clean image of no-corruption bags almost 95% of total funds and donations. From Torrent group, DLF group, Haldia Energy, to Cadila Healthcare, Wockhardt, Bharti Airtel and more than 1,731 different corporates have donated over ₹915 crores to the BJP till the end of 2018.
Since March 2018 to October 2019, electoral Bonds worth ₹6,128 crore had been sold as per the ADR report. However, before the 2019 Lok Sabha General Elections in the months of March and April, ₹3,622 worth of electoral bonds were sold by SBI. Of which ₹2,256 crore were in April itself, it was the highest for any month since the electoral bond scheme was launched.
How BJP government defended their Electoral Bond move?
In February 2017, the Indian government had introduced the Electoral Bond Scheme and later the then Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley justified the government’s decision in the Parliament.
However, it was introduced to promote transparency in political funding and donations received by political parties. The scheme was supposed to do this by rooting out cash donations with unlimited individual’s donation through bonds issued by the State Bank of India alone. It is interesting to know that the bonds are like promissory notes issued in different denominations of ₹ 1000, ₹ 10000, ₹1 lakh, ₹10 lakh, or ₹1 crore.
The government advocated that the system of electoral bonds will encourage political funding and donations of clean money from charities, religious groups, individuals, companies and more.
The above entities can give the bonds to political parties of their choice, which can then be redeemed by respective parties within a prescribed allotted time. The government also ensured that there won’t be any track record of the donor.
How Electoral Bond Scheme became controversial and benefitted BJP in 2019 Lok Sabha Election?
In the Parliament, many slammed the scheme for keeping the donor’s identity anonymous. In recent news, this has led to an influx of black money in political funding mainly to the ruling government.
This scheme’s design helps big corporate houses by not revealing their identity. This is a growing trend taking us away from transparency and accountability.
How Government and SBI keeps a track record of the donor?
The Quint in 2018 bought 2 such bonds and revealed that they carry a secret serial number code which can only be seen under UV rays. However, the government later outrightly rejected it.
The electoral bond controversy across India triggered due to the documents obtained by Commodore Lokesh Batra and reviewed by HuffPost India reveals that SBI does use the secret alphabetic number to keep track of the purchaser of such bonds.
Furthermore, documents also revealed that the Finance Ministry had approved the tracking mechanism, and directed SBI to share the electoral bonds data with the law enforcement agencies whenever required.