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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 19 June 2024

Electoral bond scheme deliberately 'muddied waters' of corporate political donations: Congress

Jairam Ramesh alleged there are four primary channels of corruption in the 'electoral bond scam' and everyday a new dimension emerges to the 'PayPM Scam', 'confirming the shocking reality of the corruption which has engulfed this country through Narendra Modi's encouragement'

PTI New Delhi Published 10.04.24, 11:13 AM
Narendra Modi and Jairam Ramesh (inset)

Narendra Modi and Jairam Ramesh (inset) File picture

The Congress on Wednesday cited a media report which claimed that at least 20 newly incorporated firms purchased electoral bonds worth about Rs 103 crore, as it alleged that the Narendra Modi government's scheme deliberately "muddied the waters" of corporate political donations.

Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh cited a report by The Hindu, which said that despite companies in existence for less than three years not being allowed to make political contributions, data shows that at least 20 such newly incorporated firms purchased poll bonds worth about Rs 103 crore.

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Ramesh alleged there are four primary channels of corruption in the "electoral bond scam" and everyday a new dimension emerges to the "PayPM Scam", "confirming the shocking reality of the corruption which has engulfed this country through Narendra Modi's encouragement".

"An update on the 'Farzi Companies' who have been donating chanda to political parties - 1.Chanda Do, Dhandha Lo. 2.Theka Lo, Rishvat Do 3.Hafta Vasuli 4.Farzi Company (Shell Companies)," he said in a post on X.

An investigation by the Hindu has revealed that at least 20 newly incorporated firms - more likely to be shell companies - purchased Electoral Bonds worth about Rs 103 crore, Ramesh said.

"This is a direct violation of rules which prevent companies less than three years old from donating to parties. This is not a coincidence. The Modi Sarkar's Electoral Bonds Scheme deliberately muddied the waters of corporate political donations," he alleged.

The electoral bond scheme got rid of the provision which limited corporate donations to 7.5 per cent of their average net profit during the previous three years, he said.

It introduced complete anonymity for donors, preventing public oversight of donations. The prohibition on companies less than three years old was one of the last few guardrails that remained to prevent an influx of political funds coming in from shell companies, Ramesh said.

"This last safeguard was also routinely violated under the Prime Minister's supervision," he alleged.

Ramesh pointed out that in 2017 itself, the Election Commission of India had warned that Electoral Bonds may lead to the use of "black money through shell companies".

The RBI had also flagged the possibility of firms misusing bearer bonds for money laundering, he said.

"The Modi Sarkar overruled their objections, presumably to ensure the steady flow of Chanda. To no one's surprise, the ECI and the RBI's warnings were prophetic," Ramesh said.

Following a Supreme Court directive, the State Bank of India (SBI), which was the authorised seller of electoral bonds, shared the data with the poll panel on March 12.

The SBI said a total of 22,217 electoral bonds of varying denominations were purchased by donors between April 1, 2019, and February 15 this year, out of which 22,030 were redeemed by political parties.

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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