Electoral bonds: Congress seeks freezing of BJP bank accounts, SC probe

Opposition party alleges that the electoral bonds data has exposed the "corrupt tactics" of the BJP

Mallikarjun Kharge addresses a press conference in Bengaluru (photo: PTI)
Mallikarjun Kharge addresses a press conference in Bengaluru (photo: PTI)


The Congress on Friday demanded a high-level probe by the Supreme Court against the ruling BJP and the freezing of its bank accounts for alleged corruption in the electoral bonds scheme, as it claimed the ruling party at the Centre had received 50 per cent of the donations received through the bonds.

The Opposition party alleged that the electoral bonds data has exposed the "corrupt tactics" of the BJP such as "quid pro quo", grant of "protection" to companies against donations, accepting "kickbacks", and money laundering through shell companies.

A day after data pertaining to the electoral bonds scheme was made public following a Supreme Court directive, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge took a swipe at the BJP saying, "PM Modi says 'na khaoonga, na khane doonga', but it seems that he only meant 'sirf BJP ko khilaoonga'.

"A sordid saga of decimating Democracy, by looting money through coercion! We demand an independent enquiry at the highest levels and the freezing of BJP's bank accounts until the truth comes out," Kharge said in a post on X.

In another post, he said the data released by State Bank of India (SBI) shows that the BJP received nearly 50 per cent of the total money raised through electoral bonds, while the principal Opposition party, the Congress, received only 11 per cent of the funds.

"There are many dubious donors. Who are these people? Which companies are these? Why have so many companies donated only after ED, IT and CBI raids? Who exerted the pressure on such companies?" he asked. "We demand the highest level of enquiry by the Supreme Court to investigate this saga of corruption by the BJP."

Kharge said it is quite worrying that while the bank accounts of the Congress party were frozen, no action has been taken against the BJP, which has "illegally acquired" hundreds of crores of rupees. "Therefore, along with an enquiry, we demand that the Bank Accounts of BJP should be frozen with immediate effect due to the illegal nature of the funds received through the Electoral Bonds Scheme," Kharge said.

Congress MP and general-secretary Jairam Ramesh hit back at Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman for her reported remarks that the link between the ED/CBI/IT raids on firms and donations through electoral bonds were based on "assumptions," saying: "We invite her to release the full data of who donated how much to which political party."

The Congress also demanded the unique bond ID numbers, so matching between donors and recipients can be done. "Soon this Suit-Boot-Loot-Jhooth Sarkar will have nowhere to hide," Ramesh said.

His remarks came a day after the Election Commission of India (ECI) published the electoral bonds data on its website. On 14 March, Congress treasurer Ajay Maken said when the list was first released, it totalled 22,217 bonds issued since 2018, but on the website, there were only details of 18,871 bonds.

"The details of 3,346 bonds are not available on the website; SBI has not provided them," he said. "Who are the people the Modi government is trying to shield? There should be an investigation. The investigation should link the IT and ED raids to these bonds. Most of the companies that donated through electoral bonds have either been raided by the IT or ED; they purchased bonds under pressure from the BJP."

"Two demands - Inquiry by the Supreme Court and immediate freezing of the BJP's accounts," Maken said in a post on X.

Ramesh also put out on X a "quick first analysis" of electoral bonds data, saying over 1,300 companies and individuals have donated electoral bonds, including over Rs 6,000 crore to the BJP since 2019. "So far, the electoral bonds data exposes at least four corrupt tactics of the BJP," Ramesh claimed.

"Quid Pro Quo: There are many cases of companies that have donated electoral bonds, and immediately afterwards gotten huge benefits from the government: Megha Engineering & Infra has given over Rs. 800 crores in EBs. In April 2023, they donated Rs 140 crore, and just one month later, they were awarded the Rs 14,400 crore Thane-Borivali Twin Tunnel Project," he alleged.

Ramesh claimed that Jindal Steel and Power gave Rs 25 crore in EBs on 7 October 2022, and just three days later, on 10 October, they won the Gare Palma IV/6 coal mine.

"Hafta Vasooli: The BJP's Hafta Vasooli strategy is simple raid a target through the ED/CBI/IT, and then seek hafta (donations) for the company's protection. At least 14 of the top 30 donors have been raided," he alleged.

Earlier this year, an investigation found that after ED/CBI/IT raids, companies were forced to donate to the BJP via electoral trusts, he said, adding that many such companies donated through EBs, such as Hetero Pharma and Yashoda Hospital.

"Future Gaming & Hotels, has donated over Rs 1200 crore, making it the largest donor in the data so far. Here is the chronology: April 2 2022: ED raids Future, and 5 days later (7th April) they donate Rs 100 crores in EBs," Ramesh claimed.

Congress leader P. Chidambaram also said the scheme was devised to "legalise bribery" and ensure that the ruling party ends up as its biggest beneficiary.

Ramesh alleged that the data also point to kickbacks, revealing a pattern, which indicates that immediately after receiving some handouts from the Central government, companies repaid the favour through electoral bonds. He alleged that the data also shows there has been money laundering through shell companies, and raised the issue of missing data, saying the SBI data only begins in April 2019, but the bank sold the first tranche of bonds in March 2018.

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