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Take back our government – BJP’s Electoral Bonds and Corporate Control: Bharat Sarkar Bachao Committee

Received from Bharat Sarkar Bachao Committee, Delhi

Sign Petition Against the BJP’s Electoral Bonds – An Open Door for Corporates to Control Our Government

Sign petition here

हिंदी के लिए नीचे देखें

In this year’s budget session of Parliament, the Modi government quietly introduced a new provision in the Finance Act that throws open the door for corporates to purchase our government – and for the BJP to get huge unaccounted funds.

The new instrument is called an “electoral bond.” An electoral bond is just a piece of paper, worth a certain amount of money, that can be purchased from a notified bank and given to a registered political party. The party can then cash the bond and get the money.

But – and this is the key – all laws and regulations have been changed to prevent anyone from knowing who purchased the bond and who encashed it. The Income Tax Act has been amended to state that the political party is not required to disclose who gave them the money. The Companies Act has been amended to say that a company can give any amount of money to political parties, and it does not have to disclose who it donated to (earlier, companies could only donate up to 7.5% of their profits and had to make the recipients public). The bank is not required to disclose who purchased the bond.

The only institution who will know which company gave money to which political party is the bank – and, therefore, the party in charge of the Finance Ministry, namely the BJP. The government claims they want to “protect donors from harassment”. But, of course, the ruling party at the Centre will know about donors using electoral bonds, and it can and will harass them if they donate to the opposition.

In short, electoral bonds are just a giant, open funding channel for corporate cash to flow to the BJP.

They are also a perfect route for money laundering. Once money is put into an electoral bond it is untraceable. Sources that preferred to remain anonymous in the RBI have effectively pointed this out – noting that bearer bonds are just another form of cash.

Multiple institutions have already opposed the bonds. The opposition in the Rajya Sabha voted to reject money bonds, but using the ‘money bill’ provisions of the Constitution, the BJP overruled them by a vote of the majority in the Lok Sabha. The Election Commission has called electoral bonds a “retrograde step”. The outgoing Chief Election Commissioner, Naseem Zaidi, has said the “public has a right to know who is making donations” and that “electoral bonds will rob poll funding of transparency.”

In 2002, when directing candidates to disclose their assets when standing for elections, the Supreme Court had said that voters’ right to know is “fundamental and basic for the survival of democracy”. Electoral bonds are not just one more bad policy. They are a direct threat to the foundations of Indian democracy. We face the prospect of corporates not only influencing policy through the back door, but of effectively purchasing the government through the front door. It is vital for people to raise voices against this ‘reform’ before it is too late.

Hindi petition follows.

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