PM Modi guilty of bald-faced lie, taking credit for bonds disclosure: Ramesh

Congress MP Jairam Ramesh has issued a statement explaining how the PM "presided over large scale corruption" via electoral bonds

PM Modi on the election campaign trail in Kerala (photo: PTI)
PM Modi on the election campaign trail in Kerala (photo: PTI)

NH Political Bureau

Hitting out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his "repeated attempts to take credit" for the disclosure of the list of donors under the electoral bonds scheme, Congress MP and general-secretary (communications) Jairam Ramesh on Monday issued a statement explaining how the PM "presided over large scale corruption".

The statement, which Ramesh posted on X, lists out several points to counter two recent claims by PM Modi and poses four questions to him:

a. Did he not allow pharmaceutical companies to distribute counterfeit medicines, potentially leading to the deaths of numerous Indians, in exchange for payment via electoral bonds?

b. Did his government not grant contracts to corrupt companies, resulting in numerous collapses of tunnels, bridges, and other infrastructure, after accepting funds from them?

c. Did the government not coerce companies into donating to the BJP through electoral bonds by threatening them using Central agencies like ED, CBI, and I-T?

d. Were not government policies changed to favour specific companies in certain sectors after they purchased the bonds?

Speaking to Thanti TV about a fortnight ago, Modi had said “where funds have come from, how they are being used” had become known only thanks to the electoral bonds scheme, introduced by the BJP-led Union government in 2017.

In reality, it was pressure applied on the State Bank of India (SBI) by the Supreme Court that eventually resulted in the disclosure of donor details.

And in an interview to ANI released today, Modi claimed "when electoral bonds were in use, the public had access to the money trail — which company donated, to whom they donated, and how they donated."

At the end of October 2023, in a statement filed before the Supreme Court in the electoral bonds case, attorney-general R. Venkataramani submitted that citizens "do not have the right to information under article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution regarding the funding of a political party".

Calling Modi's claims "a bald-faced lie", Ramesh's statement made the following points:

1. Before the electoral bonds scheme was announced, individuals and corporations had to report political donations greater than Rs 20,000. Once the scheme was implemented, donors were no longer obliged to report donations, and political parties did not have to disclose donor identities.

2. The scheme was designed to be fully anonymous. In other words, Modi wanted to hide the details of “where funds have come from [to political parties], and how they are being used”.

3. For six years between 2018 and 2024, not a single detail was revealed to the public about who donated funds and to which political party.

4. This continued until 15 February 2024, when the Supreme Court rejected the electoral bonds scheme as unconstitutional. Up until the last day in court, the Modi government continued to defend the anonymity of the scheme.

5. It was the Supreme Court which demanded that the SBI publish “all details” of who donated to which party. Here, Ramesh added that at first, "the SBI — controlled by the finance ministry — lied to the court, saying that it did not collect this information. Then, it requested three months’ time to collate the data, conveniently seeking an extension until after the election. It was only the SC’s strong intervention that forced the SBI to publish the data within days".

6. The SBI asked for three months to match donor data with political parties, whereas it took Ramesh's team less than 15 seconds using just a few lines of Python code. "Clearly, the SBI was seeking to postpone the disclosure of donors on behalf of the Modi Sarkar," Ramesh wrote.

The Congress MP also alleged that the anonymity of the electoral bonds scheme "allowed the PM to cover up four patterns of corruption he has engaged in", with the total sum amounting to Rs 4 lakh crore.

"In truth, the PM introduced anonymity to electoral financing, presided over large scale corruption, and attempted to cover it up through the SBI. Only the Supreme Court's strong stance forced the SBI to reveal who donated how much to which political party," Ramesh wrote in his post.

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