Sunday, July 14, 2024
HomeOpinionsAs usual suspects rant against electoral bonds, an old video of Arun Jaitley explaining...

As usual suspects rant against electoral bonds, an old video of Arun Jaitley explaining how bonds would clean political financing goes viral

While the shrill noises around the issue of electoral bonds lack objectivity and are aimed at political mudslinging against the BJP government, it is worth pondering over the old video of Arun Jaitley wherein he explains how the electoral bonds were introduced with the goal of ensuring transparency and cleaning political financing.

Following the disclosure of Electoral Bonds data by the Election Commission, the opposition and its friendly ecosystem went into a frenzy to churn canards and fake news in their perpetual smear campaign against the incumbent Modi government. 

Conspicuously, the usual suspects suffered a massive setback in their original attempt to anyhow implicate Adanis and Ambanis in their conspiracy theories. Allegations of their corrupt nexus with PM Modi fell flat when their names were conspicuously absent from the list of donors who contributed money to political parties through the now-defunct Electoral Bond scheme. 

Notably, spearheaded by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, the coterie has been alleging that all policies of the Modi government are to benefit select business persons like Adanis and Ambanis. Despite failing in their planned scheme of things, the ecosystem led by Congress, however, went ahead to display its selective amnesia alleging that the ‘Electoral Bonds scheme is the biggest scam (extortion) in the history of Independent India’.  

Islamist propagandist Rana Ayyub ranted, “Astounding data from the Electoral Bonds to prove the deeply entrenched crony capitalism aided and enabled by Central agencies meant to contain corruption, led by a man who famously said ‘Na khaunga, Na khaane doonga’.”

The Islamo-leftist coterie also alleged that the Modi government used coercion like using probing agencies ED, and CBI to solicit donations from scam-ridden firms. As usual, the coterie, however, applied their own conspiracy theory partially and selectively against their perennial adversary, Modi and the BJP. While they have alleged scams in the donation scheme and coercion by agencies, they granted immunity to opposition-ruled states and opposition parties for being the benefactors of this very scheme. 

Incidentally, Santiago Martin of Future Gaming has come out to be the largest buyer of electoral bonds and has links to opposition parties in the likes of CPIM, DMK, Congress, and TMC. 

Apart from baseless allegations, surmises, and conjectures that the corruption-strained firms donated to the Bhartiya Janata Party and not to the opposition parties, the cabal also retorted to using fake news. Notably, OpIndia had earlier busted how the Congress and DMK supporters were spreading fake news and lies about a ‘Pakistani company’ donating money to the BJP through electoral bonds. Click here, to read the truth.

It is pertinent to note that contrary to the cabal’s calibrated whining and grinning, several regional parties have garnered a substantive, in several cases, a disproportionate amount of donations through the Electoral bonds. For example, TMC which is at the helm only in one state, received Rs 1609 crores surpassing the national political party, Congress (Rs 1,422 crore). 

Amidst the usual rhetorical tirade against the Modi government and canards around the Electoral Bond scheme, old videos of BJP stalwart Arun Jaitley defending and explaining the need for Electoral Bond schemes have surfaced on social media.

Electoral Bond brought to curb black money for electoral funding

The electoral bond scheme was announced by the then finance minister Arun Jaitley in his Budget speech for 2017-18. He pitched it as an alternative to cash donations made to political parties as part of efforts to bring transparency to political funding.

He had said that there was a need to “cleanse the system of political funding in India”. Subsequently, he also went on to limit the cash donations to Rs 2,000 from one entity and proposed the electoral bond scheme.

Speaking about the electoral bond scheme that he had placed before Parliament, he said, “It envisages total clean money and substantial transparency coming into the system of political funding. A donor can purchase electoral bonds from a specified bank only by a banking instrument. He would have to disclose in his accounts the amount of political bonds that he has purchased.”

One of the viral videos pertains to April 2019 when the late Arun Jaitley, the then finance minister, defended the electoral bond scheme. He asserted that it was aimed at curbing the use of black money for funding elections, which the UPA-II regime sought to achieve through electoral trusts. 

Jaitley had highlighted that both the electoral trusts – proposed by the then finance minister Pranab Mukherjee in 2010 — and electoral bonds brought by the Modi government assured total white money and improved transparency while masking the identity of the link between the donor and the party. Defending the anonymity clause for donors, the BJP stalwart emphasised, “If you ask people to disclose that (identity of a donor) also, then I am afraid the cash system will be back.” 

He also highlighted that Pranab Mukherjee, the Finance Minister under the UPA II era also had made provisions for the anonymity of donors. According to Jaitley, Mukherjee had “masked” the identity by creating a pass-through electoral trust in 2010. A donor could donate to a registered electoral trust which in turn would donate to a political party.

Further, Jaitley also highlighted that people who are finding fault with the scheme were not coming up with any alternative to curb the use of black money in the electoral process.

On 7th January 2018, Arun Jaitley had also issued an official statement explaining the necessity of electoral bonds.

He had said that despite strengthening various institutions in the last seven decades, India had not been able to evolve a transparent political funding system.

(Excerpt from Arun Jaitley’s article titled – ‘Why Electoral Bonds are Necessary, Source – PIB)

He further said, “I do believe that donations made online or through cheques remain an ideal method of donating to political parties. However, these have not become very popular in India since they involve disclosure of donor’s identity.” 

In fact, as part of political funding reforms, Arun Jaitley when he was the Law Minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, he had moved a Bill legitimising donations by cheque. However, the bill had a mandatory disclosure clause that the donor had to declare the same to Income-tax and the Election Commission.

Proponents of the anonymity clause have pointed out that in its absence, the donors would be susceptible to retributive and coercive measures by political parties that didn’t receive funding from them or for funding their rival party. 

Return to cash donations would breed corruption: Union Home Minister Amit Shah

Recently, in an interaction with India Today’s Rahul Kanwal, Union Home Minister Amit Shah also strongly batted for the Electoral bonds. However, he noted that while he is ready to debate with anyone over the Electoral bond issue, he respects the Supreme Court’s ruling in the matter. He highlighted that the Electoral Bond scheme was brought to end the use of black money in the Electoral process. He also added that return to cash transactions for donations would result in corruption.

“Do you think the large corporate houses never donated to political parties until now? Where’s the data? Because of electoral bonds, those who donated, their names are out. We brought electoral bonds to end black money in politics. What secrecy are these people (opposition) talking about? They took thousands of crores in donations, did corruption to the tune of Rs 12 lakh crores, and are now demanding an explanation from us?” said Shah, hitting out at the allegations of corruption against the central government over electoral bonds.

Shah added, “I want to ask the people of the country. Before bonds were introduced, where did the political parties get money for elections? Was it black money or white money? The money donated through electoral bonds is white. Companies show in their balance sheets that they have donated money for elections. It is accounted for, unlike cash.” 

Explaining the secrecy of the electoral bonds, the Home Minister stressed, “It was kept secret so that donors are assured that no one can harass them for donating to a particular political party. The electoral bonds are reflected on the party’s P&L sheet. It is also reflected in the company’s balance sheet. There is no secrecy about it. It was the earlier cash system where secrecy was needed and caused massive corruption.” 

Conclusion

Contrary to the opposition’s shrill rhetoric, which relies on conjectures, surmises, and half-baked conspiracy theories, the Supreme Court struck down the Electoral Bond scheme citing a ‘lack of transparency.’ However, this does not necessarily imply that the scheme was a scam. In a nuanced debate between the need for secrecy (legally provided sanctity) to protect donors from witch hunts by rival parties following the disclosure of such data and the right of voters to have information about electoral funding for better judgment, the latter prevailed. This has sparked a possible redux of the Kesavananda Bharati judgment and a debate regarding the superiority of one fundamental right over another or Article 14 versus Article 368.

The usual suspects have used every possible permutation and combination to make preposterous allegations against the Modi government. From the Rafale deal to Adani and Ambani jibes, Agniveer, etc., desperately hoping that some of them will stick and deter the public from voting for the BJP. However, with no tangible evidence to pin the Modi government down, the usual suspects and their ecosystem is now grasping at the straws, relying on a combination of sensationalism, fear-mongering, and exaggeration to malign the Modi government. The outrage against electoral bonds is one such sordid attempt at undermining a democratically elected government, and it certainly won’t be last as Modi appears poised to return to power with an even greater majority.

Join OpIndia's official WhatsApp channel

  Support Us  

Whether NDTV or 'The Wire', they never have to worry about funds. In name of saving democracy, they get money from various sources. We need your support to fight them. Please contribute whatever you can afford

Paurush Gupta
Paurush Gupta
Proud Bhartiya, Hindu, Karma believer. Accidental Journalist who loves to read and write. Keen observer of National Politics and Geopolitics. Cinephile.

Related Articles

Trending now

Recently Popular

- Advertisement -