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Electoral bonds back on sale from 6 to 20 Nov, says Govt of India
Undeterred by criticism and controversy, the Central govt has notified another window for buying electoral bonds just as five states go to assembly polls
Go and buy electoral bonds to fund your favourite political party — now that the government has opened the 29th window since 2018 to do so.
As many as 29 branches of the State Bank of India in as many cities will be selling the bonds from tomorrow, 6 November, to 20 November.
The 28th window (last month) was for 10 days, between 4 October and 13 October. This time the window is longer, of 15 days.
In fact, with the latest notification, electoral bonds are effectively likely to be on sale for at least 75 days between October 2023 and May 2024, when the Lok Sabha polls are expected. The original scheme in 2018 envisaged sale of bonds for 10 days each in January, April, July and October every year, and a 30-day period during the year of the Lok Sabha polls itself.
Last year, the government expanded its ambit to grant itself the power to announce an extra fortnight of electoral bond sales in years where states and Union territories with legislatures have elections too.
That power was first exercised ahead of the Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh assembly polls late in 2022, and we see it in use again now.
Significantly, polling for the Mizoram, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh assemblies will be over by 17 November, while polling for the Rajasthan and Telangana assemblies is due after 20 November.
During the 28th window in October, bonds worth Rs 1,148 crore had been sold through 14 branches of the SBI. As much as Rs 1,095 crore worth was sold in denominations of Rs 1 crore each. Only Rs 53 crore in all was raised by sale of bonds of lower denominations.
Electoral bonds are available in denominations of Rs 1,000, Rs 10,000, Rs 1 lakh, Rs 10 lakh and Rs 1 crore. In October 2023, only 57 bonds worth Rs 1,000 and Rs 10,000 were sold.
The electoral bond system has institutionalised the system of the funding of political parties by big business, corporate donations and even foreign donations to political parties.
The identity of the donors and their favoured political parties remains unknown to everyone barring the SBI, the Central government and the central agencies.