Guest Post by NISHANK VARSHNEY
While the common man is being subjected to infinite scrutiny and daily changing rules, the political parties enjoy to have a free-run at not disclosing a large part of their income, running into thousands of Crores. As long as the political parties continue to enjoy this exemption, the menace of black money cannot be said to have been tackled.
In one of the most unprecedented decisions in the Indian history that was taken on 8th November, 2016, the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, suddenly announced the cancellation of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes with a view of “eliminating black money”. Over the last seven weeks, the PM has regularly reiterated this stand, and called Demonetization a “war on black money” through his speeches at various election rallies, the survey on his mobile app, and most recently in his “Mann ki Baat” program on Sunday. However, Mr. Nasim Zaidi, the Chief Election Commissioner of India, recently expressed that “many political parties are being used as conduits for siphoning off black money”.
As per the Representation of the People Act, 1951 (RP Act), political parties are not required to report the names of the individuals or organizations from whom they have received donations of amounts less than Rs. 20,000. A study by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) has shown that these ‘unaccounted donations’ form a large part of political parties’ income. In the year 2014-15 alone, BJP declared an income of 505.26 Crore from unknown sources, while Congress received a sum of 445.22 Crore from unknown sources during the same time-period. At present, there are over 1700 registered political parties in India, and many political parties may have been misusing this exemption to convert their black money, as voiced by the Chief Election Commissioner. Continue reading “Demonetization not a “war on black money” unless finances of political parties made accountable: Nishank Varshney”