Oppn protests electoral bonds, PSU divestment in Parl

Opposition members protest in the well of the Lok Sabha during the Winter Session of Parliament, in New Delhi. (PTI Photo)

The Opposition on Thursday protested in both Houses of Parliament over the issuance of the electoral bonds and privatisation of some public sector units (PSUs) including Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL).

Congress demanded a probe by a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) into the issuance of the electoral bond during the previous regime of the Modi government.

While the grand old party, raising the issues in the Lok Sabha, called the electoral bond scheme as “a big scam”, the Congress' acting president Sonia Gandhi led a walk out from the House in protest during Zero Hour.

Rajya Sabha was adjourned by the M Venkaiah Naidu till noon as the Congress members joined by those of other Opposition parties were up on their feet demanding suspension of the business for a discussion on the issue of electoral bonds and privatisation of the PSUs.

Congress, holding a press conference later, demanded a probe by the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) into the issuance of the electoral bond. It also urged the Supreme Court to expeditiously hear the matter and pronounce its “final verdict”.

Raising the issue in the Lok Sabha during Zero Hour, Congress member Manish Tewari accused the Modi government of giving “official cover” to corruption by introducing “opaque” electoral bonds.

He underlined that the government issued the “anonymous” electoral bonds during the previous regime of NDA despite the Reserve bank of India (RBI) and the Election Commission (EC) had objected to the move.

“Before 2017, there was a fundamental structure to control the influence of the rich on Indian politics. With the issuance of the electoral bonds, the government gave an official cover to corruption. Who are the donors, how much money was paid and who got the money? There is no information available on them,” Tewari said.

As the Congress member, while raising the issue, referred to the role of the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) in the issuance of the electoral bonds ahead of the Karnataka Assembly polls in 2018, the Lok Sabha speaker Om Birla refused to allow him to speak further and ask another member to raise his issue.

This prompted protests from the Congress members who subsequently staged a walkout, led by Gandhi.

Earlier, soon after the Lok Sabha assembled for the day, Congress members stormed the Well, demanding for a discussion on the electoral bonds.

"This is a big scam. The country is being looted. Please allow us to speak," Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said in the House.

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