‘India will regret scrapping of electoral bonds’


Modi attacks opposition for spreading “lies” about the bonds and said his government had introduced the scheme to cut down on ‘black money’ during polls…reports Asian Lite News

The scrapping of the electoral bonds – in a landmark decision by the Supreme Court in February – is a decision “everyone will regret when there is honest reflection” and has “completely pushed the country towards black money”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said.

The Prime Minister said the electoral bonds scheme launched by his government was meant to fight the use of ‘black money’, referring to unaccounted cash or funds from criminal activities, in election campaigns, and that he had “never claimed this was an absolute way” to achieve that goal.

Modi also attacked the opposition for spreading “lies” about the bonds and said his government had introduced the scheme to cut down on ‘black money’ during elections. He countered criticism – that his Bharatiya Janata Party was the largest beneficiary, to the tune of thousands of crores.

“There has been a discussion in our country for a long time… that black money allows for dangerous games to be played during elections. That money is spent in elections… no one denies. My party also spends… all parties and all candidates spend, and this money is taken from the people. I wanted to try something… how can our elections be free from this black money? How can there be transparency for people giving donations? This was a pure thought in my mind,” the PM said.

“We were looking for a way. We found a small way… never claimed this was absolute,” he said, building on comments from earlier this month, when he told a Tamil news channel “no system is perfect… shortcomings can be improved”.

Modi’s comments on electoral bonds came in a wide-ranging interview aired this evening – four days before the start of the Lok Sabha election – that included detailed remarks on the opposition INDIA bloc, the contentious ‘One Nation, One Election’ scheme, and allegations his government uses central investigative agencies, like the Enforcement Directorate, to target rivals before polls.

PM Modi On Electoral Bonds

The electoral bonds scheme – which was supposed to allow private individuals and corporates to make completely anonymous donations to any political party (previously anonymity was limited to donations below the Rs 2,000-mark) – was struck down by the Supreme Court in February.

A bench led by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud ruled the scheme unconstitutional on two counts – it violated the people’s right to information and the right to equality. The court directed the State Bank of India (the sole sales point for the bonds) to release data about buyers and beneficiaries.

Modi, however, pointed out that the 16 companies which bought electoral bonds after facing money laundering cases, and that 63 per cent of that amount went to parties other than the BJP.

He then took a double jibe at the opposition, saying, “The work of donating to the opposition… will BJP do this? 63 per cent went to them… and you are making allegations against us?” he asked.

“This is the success story of electoral bonds. There were electoral bonds… so you are getting a (money) trail of which company gave, how much, where. Whether what happened was good or bad can be an issue of debate…” Modi explained.

PM On Opposition Attacks

The Prime Minister stoutly denied allegations by the opposition – that the political landscape is tilted in favour of the ruling party. The opposition has pointed to changes like the new law that allows the government to choose poll panel officials, who are supposed to ensure a free and fair election.

On that topic he said, “In fact, we have made improvements. Today, when the Election Commission is formed, the opposition is also in it.” Mr Modi was referring to the law mandating the Leader of the Opposition as the third in a three-member selection panel. The other two are the PM and a Union Minister.

The Prime Minister also responded to claims the government uses central agencies to harass rivals. He pointed out that only three per cent of cases filed by the ED were against political leaders.

He also declared those involved in corruption would have “paap ka dar”, or fear of sin, and that honest persons had nothing to fear. The PM”s comments come amid criticism over Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s arrest last month in connection with the alleged liquor policy scam. Mr Kejriwal’s former deputy, Manish Sisodia, and the Bharat Rashtra Samithi’s K Kavitha, were also arrested in this case.

Modi On Congress Manifesto

The Prime Minister lashed out at the Congress, which heads the united INDIA opposition bloc, and the party’s manifesto for this election, which he earlier referred to as a “Muslim League imprint”.

“This manifesto completely fails the economy. In a way, the manifesto of opposition, destroys the aspiration of the first time voter of the country,” he said.

“… the biggest loss (from the Congress’ manifesto) is for the people who are less than 25 years old. This manifesto will destroy their future,” the Prime Minister said.

PM Modi On Elon Musk

Asked about possible investment in India by Tesla, Inc. boss Elon Musk, the PM said he welcomed all such initiatives but pitched for localisation, saying “the product should have the essence of our soil”. Musk will meet Modi later this month, when he is expected to announce investment plans. (ANI)

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