Centre introduced electoral bonds scheme to combat black money: Amit Shah

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Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Friday said that the electoral bonds do not represent black money, but the scheme was introduced to “wipe out black money” from the political funding process. 

Speaking at the India Today Conclave on Friday, Shah said he and the BJP believed the electoral bonds scheme brought greater transparency in political funding.

“Government brought bonds to combat the menace of black money… it brings transparency in the funding system,” he said.

Shah said now that the scheme has been scrapped, he fears that “black money” would return to the funding process. He added while he did not want to make any comments on the Supreme Court’s order, he was ready to discuss the electoral bonds scheme and how it was introduced to wipe out black money.

The Election Commission of India on Thursday published data received from the State Bank of India (SBI) on electoral bonds. Of Rs 12,769 crore worth electoral bonds encashed by the political parties in the last five years, ruling BJP got  almost half of the amount, one-third of this came during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The BJP has encashed electoral bonds worth Rs 202 crore in January this year, ahead of the Lok Sabha elections 2024.

The Home Minister explained that before the scheme was introduced in 2018, donations to political parties were made in cash. After the scheme was launched, companies or individuals had to submit a cheque to the Reserve Bank of India to purchase bonds for donation to parties.

On Friday, senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said electoral bonds were the biggest extortion racket and corruption scandal in the world and it was being run by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Gandhi said that the money collected by the BJP was used to bring down state governments across the country.

“The prime minister came up with a concept which he claimed to have been designed to clean Indian political financing. At the heart of it is the idea of electoral bonds. Now it turns out that it is a way of extorting money from India’s largest corporate companies. It is a way of intimidating corporates and forcing them to give money to the BJP against allotment of biggest contracts across the country,” Gandhi told reporters in Bhiwandi .

Reacting to Gandhi’s comments, Shah said: “There is a perception that the BJP benefitted from the electoral bonds scheme because it is in power…Rahul Gandhi also said it is the biggest extortion racket in the world. Don’t know who writes these things for him.” 

“The BJP received around Rs 6,000 crore through electoral bonds. The total bonds (of all parties) amounted to Rs 20,000 crore. So where did the rest of the bonds worth Rs 14,000 crore go?” asked the Home Minister.

Amit Shah slammed the opposition parties which are criticising the BJP for the amount it received through the electoral bonds. He said the amount the opposition parties received was disproportionate to their number of seats in the Lok Sabha.

The Home Minister pointed out that the Trinamool Congress encashed bonds worth Rs 1,600 crore, Congress received Rs 1,400 crore, Bharat Rashtra Samithi received Rs 1,200 crore, BJD received Rs 775 crore and DMK received Rs 649 crore.

Shah said there was no room for secrecy after the electoral bonds scheme was implemented as the amount was reflected in the bank accounts of both the parties and the donors. 

He pointed at Congress and said when donations were made through cash transactions, “they deposit Rs 100 in the party and keep Rs 1,000 in their homes”. “Congress has done this for years,” he said.

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