Opposition tears into BJP’s ‘corrupt’ electoral bonds


SC’s decision to strike down the scheme as unconstitutional has given the beleaguered opposition the much-needed political talking point in the run-up to polls…reports Asian Lite News

The Supreme Court decision striking down the contentious electoral bond scheme of the government as unconstitutional has given the beleaguered opposition INDIA bloc an unexpected and much-needed political talking point, and an opportunity to aggressively add corruption to its armoury in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections.

The Supreme Court order has asked the State Bank of India (SBI), the only one authorised to issue electoral bonds, to submit the details of bonds purchased since April 12, 2019, to the Election Commission within three weeks. The poll watchdog has to make public the information by March 13, which is when the campaign for the Lok Sabha elections would be gathering pace.

The timing, therefore, is crucial for the Opposition parties, which hope to frame the issue as one of corruption – on which they find themselves at the receiving end, even while struggling to pin their Adani-Ambani charge on the BJP.

Senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who has been leading the party charge against the BJP on corruption, said after the Supreme Court verdict that the electoral bond scheme was another proof of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “corrupt policies”. The BJP “had made electoral bonds a medium for taking bribes and commission”, he said.

“The bond is the biggest scandal since Independence. Rs 5,000 crore se adhik ke bond… Kinse kya saude kiye gaye, unke badle main kya bond liye gaye hai (What deals were made with whom, what were the benefits sought in return), what concessions were given to Indian and foreign companies… nobody knows… Such a big scam has happened, and 95% of the bonds have gone to the BJP, helping them across the country. They are fighting elections, spending, indulging in horse-trading, they are doing everything… setting up offices in every district. They blocked funding to other parties… how will democracy survive?” former Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said.

The Congress held a press conference on the issue, with spokesperson Pawan Khera asking: “Now that the massive corrupt mechanism by the Modi government has been exposed by the Supreme Court itself, will the government send the ED to probe the electoral bond scam?”

Arguing that the electoral bonds scheme violated “every principle of equality, fairness, reasonableness and democracy”, former finance minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram said: “The fact that the BJP cornered nearly 90% of the donations by corporates and high net worth individuals will be exposed now. Let the world know who gave money, when the money was given, and to which party it was given. The people will ask why the money was given to a political party.”

Other Opposition parties were as upbeat about the order, but focused more on transparency and restoration of a level-playing field. “The Supreme Court has rightly held that electoral bonds are unconstitutional. This will ensure a transparent electoral process and the integrity of the system. This judgment has restored democracy and the level playing field for all political parties. It has also ensured the common man’s faith in the system,” DMK chief and Tamil Nadu CM M K Stalin said.

The Aam Aadmi Party said the decision was an important step in ensuring transparency in election funding.

Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav posted on X that the verdict “is a welcome decision for the revival of democracy”. “This is an expose of the illegitimate policies of BJP. This decision is also a revelation of the BJP-corruption bond.”

The TDP, which is in talks with the BJP for an alliance in Andhra Pradesh, also welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision as “historic”, using it to ask the ruling YSRCP in the state to reveal details of the funds received by it through the scheme. TDP spokesperson Deepak Reddy said party chief N Chandrababu Naidu has been a vocal advocate of transparency and accountability in politics.

The CPI(M), which was one of the petitioners in the case, said it had always argued that the scheme legalizes corruption. “By this verdict, this unscrupulous scheme designed to finance the ruling party via anonymous corporate donors has been completely scrapped… It is essential now that reforms for political and electoral funding are introduced, to ensure transparency, clean funding and a level playing field,” the party said.

ALSO READ-BJP renominates only 4 of 28 outgoing RS MPs

[mc4wp_form id=""]