Electoral bonds: Urgent need for SC-monitored probe, says Congress

Citing a "concerning" example, party spokesperson Jairam Ramesh said infrastructure companies had donated vast sums of money to the BJP

The Prime Minister (in picture) has scaled the Mount Everest of corruption: Jairam Ramesh (photo: PTI)
The Prime Minister (in picture) has scaled the Mount Everest of corruption: Jairam Ramesh (photo: PTI)


Stepping up its attack on the Union government over the electoral bonds issue, the Congress on Saturday alleged that thousands of crores have been "extorted" from corporate India and asserted that the need for a Supreme Court-monitored independent probe is pressing.

Congress MP and general-secretary Jairam Ramesh said the BJP's four "corrupt tactics" — 'chanda do, dhandha lo (give donations, get business), hafta vasooli (extortion), theka lo rishvat do (get contracts for bribes), farzi company dakait sangni (loot through shell companies)' — emerged after a quick first analysis of the data on the "electoral bonds scam".

These four patterns of corruption that have emerged are of grave concern and the need for a Supreme Court-monitored independent probe is pressing, Ramesh said in a post on X.

"In fact, since yesterday, we have seen dozens of examples of these kinds of corruption emerge. Thousands of crores have been extorted and extracted from corporate India, and thousands of crores of public assets have been looted," he alleged.

Citing examples that are "concerning", Ramesh said infrastructure companies had donated vast sums of money. "For instance, the second-largest donor of Electoral Bonds, Megha Engineering, was involved with the Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Project in Telangana, labelled the 'world's largest multi-stage lift irrigation project'," he claimed.

"Megha constructed some part of the Medigadda Barrage, a key part of the project. It so happens that the Barrage has since started sinking, putting waste to 1 lakh crores worth of taxpayers money," Ramesh alleged.

The last few years have seen quite a few instances of such infrastructure failures in Morbi, Gujarat, for instance, Ramesh said. "Have these shoddily-built barrages, buildings, and bridges all over India, been covered up with some hefty electoral bond donations? Have Indians' lives been put at risk for 'chanda' collection?" Ramesh asked.

The Congress leader also alleged that many companies have obtained green clearances after buying electoral bonds. "How much forest land has been lost to electoral bonds? Which Adivasi communities have had to bear the burden of keeping the BJP's coffers full?" he said.

Noting that pharma companies have given thousands of crores in electoral bonds, Ramesh said some big donors, such as Hetero Drugs, have had to recall medicines from the US market due to impurities found by the American regulators. Have India's medicine regulators allowed tainted medicines in the market in exchange for electoral bonds, he asked.

"The largest electoral bond donor, at almost Rs 1,400 crores, is Future Gaming & Hotels. It turns out that the son of the owner of Future is a member of the BJP and that the owner himself met Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in April 2023 despite facing many CBI cases," Ramesh claimed.

How many more fraudulent companies on the list have close BJP links, he asked. "In addition to these corrupt practices that have emerged through the electoral bond scam, this morning, news has come out of an US investigation into Mr Modi's favourite business group," he said.

The Congress had earlier raised 100 questions on the "Modani Scam" in its 'Hum Adani Ke Hain Kaun' series, Ramesh said. "Between the Modani Scam and the Electoral Bond Scam, the Prime Minister has scaled the Mount Everest of corruption," he said. "Governance in Modi's India has been about 'jitna chanda, utna haq'."

On Friday, the Congress had demanded a high-level probe by the Supreme Court against the BJP, and freezing of its bank accounts for alleged corruption in the electoral bonds scheme, pointing out the party had received 50 per cent of the money raised through these bonds.

Steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal, billionaire Sunil Bharti Mittal's Airtel, Anil Agarwal's Vedanta, ITC, Mahindra and Mahindra, and a lesser-known Future Gaming and Hotel Services were among the prominent buyers of the now-scrapped electoral bonds.

Following a Supreme Court directive, the State Bank of India (SBI), which was the authorised seller of electoral bonds, shared data on electoral bonds with the Election Commission of India (ECI) on 12 March. The top court had given the ECI time until 5.00 pm on 15 March to upload the data on its website, which it did a day earlier on 14 March.

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