Although Indian National Congress too is the recipient of donations worth Rs 500 Crore (out of Rs 6000 Crore worth of bonds sold by the SBI) through electoral bonds, Rajya Sabha MP and party spokesperson Prof Rajeev Gowda declared that the party is in favour of scrapping the scheme.
Addressing the media in New Delhi, Prof Gowda referred to the Huffington Post India’s report that the Government had ignored objections raised by the Reserve Bank of India before announcing the scheme in the Union Budget on February 1, 2017.
Pointing out that even the Election Commission had opposed the scheme, Prof Gowda said that the Congress wanted the the central government to explain what policy favours, including sale of public assets, have been offered by the Government to those who purchased the bonds and donated to the BJP.
Demanding that the Government not only should reveal the names of the bond buyers, Prof Gowda said that the scheme was ideal for money laundering and was liable to be misused.
The party also demanded an inquiry into how the Finance Ministry took decisions to usher in this corruption-inducing scheme overruling the objections of the RBI and ECI.
“If the government has nothing to hide, let it come clean and reveal this information. We demand that the BJP government reveal the names of the entities who have bought bonds and to what extent,” he said.
“The Electoral Bond scheme is an elaborate charade to hide the truth from the people of India. Now no one will know what amount of money is being given to a party and what favours they are getting in return,” he added.
Prof Gowda pointed out that the argument made by the then Finance Minister late Shri Arun Jaitley when introducing the scheme, was that companies preferred to make anonymous donations because they feared reprisal from political parties in power.
Had that argument been valid, donations would have gone to parties in the opposition. But by all accounts, 95% of the bonds were handed over to the BJP, the ruling party. Only token amounts have gone to other parties.
This happened, Gowda suggested, because of the fear of reprisal. The very fear that electoral bonds were allegedly brought to eliminate.
This is because the only people who know who purchase and receive a bond are:
1) State Bank of India which has issued the bond
2) The entity that has bought and donated bond and
3) Income Tax authorities.
The government controls the SBI, and Income Tax authorities now act as handmaidens of the government, the spokesman maintained while explaining why the demand needed to be scrapped.
The demand will be raised in parliament, he added.