Banning of electoral bonds will increase black money in elections

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Due to the Supreme Court’s decision to make the details of electoral bonds public, industrialists who have made donations to the central government will face difficulties. Bharatiya Janata Party has received the maximum donation under the purchase of electoral bonds. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party at the Center has raised political donations of about Rs 1,300 crore through electoral bonds in the financial year 2022-23. This amount is seven times more than the donations received by Congress through electoral bonds during the same period. Congress earned Rs 171 crore through electoral bonds, which is less than Rs 236 crore in the financial year 2021-22. At the state level, Samajwadi Party had earned Rs 3.2 crore through electoral bonds in 2021-22 but it did not receive any money through these bonds in 2022-23. At the same time, Telugu Desam Party (TDP), another party recognized at the state level, received Rs 34 crore through electoral bonds in 2022-23, which is 10 times more than the previous financial year.

It is not that it is a very difficult task for SBI to disclose the bond information. If SBI wants, it can provide the information within 24 hours. Following the order of the Supreme Court, State Bank of India (SBI) has filed an application and sought time till June 30 to make the bond information public. Actually, Lok Sabha elections will be completed in the meantime. After this the BJP government at the Center will not have to face any difficulties. Before this, if the electoral bonds are disclosed, the biggest problem will be faced by the industrialists and businessmen who have donated in the form of bonds. Since BJP has received maximum donations, the bond buyers will be the target of other opposition parties including Congress. Especially in states where Congress and non-BJP parties are in power, bond buyers may have to become the target of wrath of the ruling parties. Opposition parties will leave no stone unturned in taking action against them with the intention of political malice. It is noteworthy that Rahul Gandhi and opposition party leaders are already surrounding Adani and Ambani. This is the reason why SBI is asking for time till June 30 to avert this problem. After this period, the BJP government at the Center will have no fear of anything. BJP has full hope that again its government will be formed at the Centre. After the formation of the government, the central government will leave no stone unturned in providing security to the buyers of BJP’s bonds. But if their names are revealed before this, then definitely the ruling opposition parties of the states will not spare the buyers. The reason is clear that compared to BJP, Congress has received very less donations and other parties have received minimal donations.

Last month, a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud had struck down the electoral bond scheme and directed SBI to disclose details of each electoral bond encashed by political parties. The court had said that the information should include the date of encashment and the denomination of the bonds and should be submitted to the election panel by March 6. The Supreme Court had ordered SBI to stop issuing these bonds and give details of donations made through this medium to the Election Commission. After this, the Election Commission was asked to publish this information on its website by March 13. A five-judge Constitution bench held that the stated objective of fighting black money and maintaining the confidentiality of donors cannot protect the scheme. The court said electoral bonds are not the only way to curb black money. The electoral bond scheme was launched in 2018 with the stated objective of preventing black money from entering the political system. The then Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said that the traditional practice of political funding in India is cash donations. He had said, “The sources are anonymous or pseudonymous. The amount of money is never disclosed. The current system ensures unclean money coming from unknown sources. It is a completely non-transparent system. On the privacy section, He had said that disclosing the identity of the donors would take them back to the cash option. In order to keep the donor information confidential, SBI has issued a notification regarding the purchase and payment of electoral bonds at its 29 authorized branches across the country (where electoral bonds were earlier issued ) had set out a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for SBI. It said that to maintain confidentiality, no details about the person purchasing the electoral bond, not even KYC, will be fed into the core banking system. SBI said. The issue is that the details of electoral bonds purchased through branches are not maintained in a centralized manner. The details related to date of purchase and payment of the bond are kept in two different silos. State Bank of India has maintained the details of electoral bonds encashed by political parties. Details have not been shared yet. Its deadline has also passed. The State Bank had approached the Supreme Court seeking time till June 30 to disclose details of electoral bonds encashed by political parties. In an application filed before the Supreme Court, the State Bank argued that the process of retrieving information from each silo and matching the information from one silo to the other would take time.

A contempt petition has been filed in the Supreme Court against SBI in the electoral bond case. This petition has been filed by the Association for Democratic Rights. Actually, SBI was supposed to provide information related to electoral bonds to the Election Commission by March 6, but this information has not been provided by SBI. The central BJP government and the opposition are making allegations and counter-allegations against each other regarding this issue. Congress spokesperson Pawan Kheda said on the Supreme Court’s decision that whatever money BJP got, we also want to know what you did with this money? BJP alone received more than Rs 5000 crore. SBI should disclose all these things like which party gave how much money to whom.

In response to this, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said that we still believe that this was the most transparent system. If someone says that BJP got more money then it is a fallacy, 30-40 years ago if we had said that Congress got more money then what would it mean. Today BJP is the biggest party. It is certain that the Supreme Court’s decision has dealt a blow to the Central Government’s efforts to prevent corruption in elections through black money. After the court’s order in the bond case, political parties will again not desist from twisting the arms of industrialists in the name of election donations.

– Yogendra Yogi

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