New Delhi, November 21
Stepping up its attack on the Centre over the electoral bonds issue, the Congress on Thursday sought an inquiry by a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) into these “opaque” donations, which it termed a “threat to democracy”.
The demand came a day after the party launched a scathing attack on the BJP-led government at the Centre over the issue, with its chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala describing it as a “modus operandi to receive thousands of crores from big business houses through secret donations”.
Citing news reports based on RTI documents, he said, “The intrigue and the conspiracy has now indicted the PM himself “. The Congress raised the issue in both Houses of Parliament today. Addressing a press conference, Congress leader Manish Tewari said the party would continue to raise the issue in the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha. Reiterating his party’s demand for a full-fledged discussion in both Houses, he said, “Parliament is the appropriate forum to discuss the damage which these bonds are doing to our democracy. We are asking for a full-fledged discussion on electoral financing... political financing with electoral bonds being integral part of that. We are specifically asking for a JPC to look into the entire scheme of bearer electoral bonds,” Tewari said.
“Electoral bonds and their completely opaque nature is a fundamental threat to democracy. Democracy is a function of public trust,” Tewari said. Claiming that there were issues with regard to the fact that Parliament was misled, he asserted that there were “hugely problematic issues” with the electoral bonds and that the ruling party was trying to make the country’s democracy “hostage to the influence of big money”.
“You are skidding down the slippery slope... The framers of the Constitution and successive governments 1952 onwards put in place a very robust legal architecture to insulate the country’s political processes from the”pernicious influence of big money, the Congress leader said.
“In 2017, under the guise of a finance Bill and without structured discussion in Parliament on electoral campaign financing or political campaign financing, the BJP-led NDA government smuggled these opaque electoral bonds into our political system,” he said.
Hitting back, the BJP said “the alliance of defeated and the dejected corrupt politicians” did not want clean, tax-paid transparent money to fund elections. “Electoral bonds brought in honest money in electoral politics. People who are revolting against electoral bonds have grown used to black money and believe in its usage during elections,” senior BJP leader and Union Minister Piyush Goyal told a press conference at the party headquarters here.
"We have ensured that the money going into politics is accounted," he said, adding that these bonds are non-transferable, can be redeemed only within 15 days and be deposited to only a designated account of political parties. — PTI
Mode of honest money in electoral politics
Electoral bonds brought in honest money in electoral politics. Those revolting have become used to black money & believe in its usage during elections. — Piyush Goyal, union minister
The bonds are threat to democracy
Electoral bonds and their completely opaque nature is a fundamental threat to democracy. — Manish Tewari, Congress MP