Political funding: AAP wants Centre to drop ‘electoral bonds’ idea

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New Delhi | Updated: January 10, 2018 11:44:03 AM

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has asked the Centre not to go ahead with its scheme for electoral bonds. The party claimed that the scheme threatens to kill transparency.

Arvind Kejriwal, AAP, Electoral funding, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Electoral funding scheme, Aam Aadmi Party, AAP claimed that the scheme threatens to kill transparency in electoral fundings.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has asked the Centre not to go ahead with its scheme for electoral bonds. The party claimed that the scheme threatens to kill transparency. Pankaj Gupta, the national secretary of the party said that the validation of the electoral bonds is likely to keep the information about the person secret, which is completely opposite to what the central government is aiming for regarding bringing transparency in political funding. Gupta also claimed that the funds are easily obtainable by banks and RBI. Gupta claimed, “The ruling party can use this information to harass the donors of opposition parties.”

On January 2, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley came out with ‘electoral bonds’ that can be bought from specified branches of SBI. These bonds can be used to donate money to political parties. The bearer of the instrument will not carry the name of the payee and can be bought for any value, in multiples of Rs 1,000, Rs 10,000, Rs 1 lakh, Rs 10 lakh or Rs 1 crore, Jaitley said in a statement in the Lok Sabha.

On the same, AAP leader ND Gupta claimed that every donation has been accounted for and all accounts shared with central agencies. Gupta has been helping the party manage its accounts for a long time. Gupta dismissed the reports of irregularities in AAP’s funding, saying that the reports are baseless. “Every donation AAP has received till now has been accounted for. Misrepresentation and twisting of facts are done on purpose,” Gupta said.

Back in November 2017, AAP was served with a notice of Rs 30.37 crore by the I-T department. The department asked the party why the amount should not be recovered from it. It was also said by the I-T department that donations that were received by AAP are illegal, and it should be taxable. The notice served by the department highlighted that AAP had not disclosed donations of Rs 13.16 crore. The party even failed to record the details of 461donors who paid Rs 6.26 crore.

Meanwhile, the CPI(M) said the Centre’s move to introduce electoral bonds was “deeply regressive”, which would make the donor, donee and the amount — each of the three vital aspects — a “State secret”. In a letter to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said the government’s move would “shield the donors from the gaze of the electorate, which needs to know if policies are being made precisely because they help some influential donors”. “The measures you have introduced recently, I regret to say, have reversed any move towards transparent and clean political funding that may have been possible. Electoral bonds are a deeply regressive move which will make the donor, donee and the amount, each of these three vital aspects, a State secret,” he wrote in the letter.

In his Budget speech 2017-18, Jaitley had announced the government’s plans to introduce an electoral bond scheme to clean the system of political funding. “The government has now finalised the scheme of electoral bonds. The scheme will be notified,” he said.

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