After the Congress staged a walkout in the Lok Sabha calling electoral bonds a “big scam”, Union Minister Piyush Goyal Thursday said those opposing the new electoral funding system are “corrupt politicians” who don’t want clean money to fund their election campaigns.
“People who are revolting against electoral bonds have grown used to black money and believe in its usage during elections. This is the alliance of the defeated and dejected corrupt politicians who do not want clean, tax-paid transparent money to fund elections,” he said.
“This is the same lobby that had made dubious and wrong charges at the Rafale deal and has been rejected by the people of India. The Supreme Court, too, quashed their false claims,” he added.
Calling the electoral bonds a success, Goyal said it helped in curbing corruption. He added that all the information related to electoral bonds is available in the public domain through RTI.
“Earlier, donations worth Rs 20,000 was allowed in cash. We changed that to Rs 2,000, so that only poor people could help political parties with cash. Honest and clean money has started to come in Indian politics since then,” Goyal said.
“Earlier, there was no record of where the money came from and where it went. The new system will now allow tax-payer’s money with KYC tags to buy bonds,” he added.
He also said that the Centre made sure that whatever money was used in elections by parties came from banks directly.
“By electoral bonds, we have made sure that whatever money is used in election proceedings must come from the bank, through the KYC procedures, and can be issued by selected SBI branches so that the SBI can keep its track,” he added.
Congress protests in Parliament
Opposition parties, including the Congress, protested in both Houses of Parliament after the matter of electoral bonds was not allowed to be taken up for discussion.
“This is a big scam. The country is being looted. Please allow us to speak,” Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said.
As MPs stormed into the Well of the House, Speaker Om Birla showed the rulebook and urged the protesting MPs to maintain the dignity of the House.
“I am a new member. You are senior. Don’t come to the Well. Maintain the convention,” Birla said, to which Chowdhury replied that Birla is the chair of the House and the opposition is forced to give adjournment motion notices to discuss the important issues and not disrespect the chair.
“You are not new. You are the chair of the House. We are forced to give the adjournment motions to raise very important issues, not to disrespect the chair. We have given the notice because this is a big scam. The country is being looted,” Chowdhury said.
Chowdhury added that the issue of electoral bonds needs urgent attention. “Sometimes there are issues in the country that needs urgent attention. We don’t do this to disrespect you. Electroral bonds is a scam,” he added.
Congress MP Manish Tewari claimed the Reserve Bank of India had reservation over electoral bonds but its was overruled by the Government.
“I want to draw the attention of the House towards electoral bonds. The electoral bond scheme was limited to elections. RTI in 2018 reveled that government overruled Reserve Bank of India on electoral bonds,” he said.
Tewari’s comments on the Prime Minister’s Office prompted the Speaker to turn off his mic, which led to a walkout by the party, lead by party chief Sonia Gandhi.
“This made government corruption official. People don’t know who is the donor, who is the receiver and how much money has been given,” he added.
On Wednesday, Congress demanded that the government disclose the identity of all donors and reveal in Parliament information regarding donations received by all political parties.
What are Electoral Bonds?
The Finance Bill, 2017 introduced “Electoral bonds” as interest-free bearer instruments (like Promissory Notes) that will be available for purchase from the State Bank of India within a designated window of 10 days in every quarter of the financial year.
The scheme, which was notified on January 2, 2018, allows individuals and domestic companies to present these bonds — issued in multiples of Rs 1,000, Rs 10,000, Rs 1 lakh, Rs 10 lakh, and Rs 1 crore — to political parties of their choice, which have to redeem them within 15 days.
Buyers of the bonds have to submit full KYC details at the time of buying. But the beneficiary political party is not required to reveal the identity of the entity that has given it the bond(s).