Senior Congress party leaders on Friday, November 22, staged a protest near the Mahatma Gandhi statue in the Parliament premises against the ambiguity around the use of electoral bonds. Earlier this week the Congress party hit out at the Centre demanding the BJP-led government to disclose all details about the electoral bonds before the Parliament alleging that the scheme has hindered the transparency in the funding of political parties. One of the main allegations was that corruption had been covered up through the electoral bonds scheme and the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) had floated a request to issue "illegal" electoral bonds ahead of Karnataka assembly elections in 2018.
On Friday, November 22, the Congress gave a Suspension of Business Notice in Rajya Sabha under rule 267, over "reservation expressed by RBI (Reserve Bank of India) and ECI (Election Commission of India) on Electoral Bonds Scheme." After this Congress leaders like Manish Tiwari, Shashi Tharoor, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Karti Chidamabrarm among others stood outside to protest. They held placards reading, "New name of corruption is electoral bonds, speak up Prime Minister, Rs 6,000 crore for BJP? Ambani or Adani, transparency in electoral bond."
"Our demand is very simple that the list of donors should be made public. If the government says that they have electoral bonds of usher in transparency then the list of the same needs to be made public. The apex court has directed that Election Commission must obtain from all political parties the complete list of electoral bonds by May 30. As per media reports, the BJP has still not submitted the list," said Manish Tiwari.
Earlier this week Congress MP Ghulam Nabi Azad had explained how the Election Commission stated that this scheme will end the transparency of the donations that political parties get. It may eventually lead to an increase in the use of black money by political parties through shell companies. On Friday Senior Congress MP Shashi Tharoor said that the Congress party has been saying since a very long that there is something fundamentally "wrong" with electoral bonds.
"We have been saying that there is something wrong in electoral bonds. Only those who get it are happy. Why the electoral bond policy which should only be confined to Lok Sabha was extended to Assembly," he asked.
Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram's son Karti Chidambaram said the government and the Prime Minister should clarify who contributed how much to which political party.
"There must be transparency in the entire electoral bond process. Only banks and government know who are purchasing electoral bonds. The news reports suggest that BJP has been the biggest beneficiary of this programme," he said. Yesterday, Congress MPs had staged a walkout from Lok Sabha alleging lack of transparency in electoral bonds after party leader Manish Tewari raised the issue and said that the decision has institutionalised "government corruption."
Electoral bonds can be purchased by a person, who is a citizen of India or incorporated or established in India. A person can either buy electoral bonds, singly or jointly with other individuals. However, only the political parties registered under Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 (43 of 1951) and which secured no less than 1% of the votes polled in the last general election to the House of the People or the Legislative Assembly of the state shall be eligible to receive the electoral bonds. The bonds can only be cashed by the political party through a bank account with the authorized bank.
(With Inputs from ANI)