November 18, 2019
Political funding is still a grey area in India.

Electoral bond scheme has been facing criticism since its launch in January 2018. Here are the reasons

HUFF POST recently exposed how govt overruled RBI's objections on electoral bonds. RBI had said that electoral bonds and amendment to the RBI Act would encourage money laundering and undermine faith in Indian banknotes.

But govt rejected these objections and passed the law. 

Electoral bond is an instrument to donate money to political parties  and can be purchased from State Bank of India and identities of donor and receiver are kept secret. 

The NDA government introduced electoral bonds by  making amendments through the Finance Act 2017 to the Reserve Bank of India Act 1934, Representation of Peoples Act 1951, Income Tax Act 1961 and Companies Act. 

Rules regarding donations by private companies and declaration of their political contributions have been removed.

Another amendment was made in March 2018 to exempt political parties from informing the Election Commission (EC) of any amount received above Rs 2,000, if made through electoral bonds. 

NDA government claims that electoral bonds will weed out black money from political funding but opposition parties and Election Commission feel the bond scheme promotes anonymous funding and favours the BJP. Supreme Court is yet to decide on the matter but till then electoral bonds continue to be used. 

This short video explains the topic. 

Election Commission said: “The scheme legalises anonymity but the right to vote means making an informed choice - citizens must know who is funding the candidates.”

The poll panel also claimed that electoral bonds make it difficult for the commission to track donations from overseas and government companies, both barred from funding political parties. 

The govt said: "It is not voters concern to know where the money comes from. And there is no complete secrecy. Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and Income Tax department will get the information about donors."

Critics, however, claim that the ruling party can get this information from RBI and then arm twist those who donate to the opposition parties.

Another argument is that if donation remains anonymous, companies can influence government policy by funding the ruling political party

BJP was the biggest beneficiary of the electoral bond scheme launched by the government in 2017-18, bagging 94.5 percent of the bonds worth a little over Rs 210 crore.

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