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PM is defending the indefensible

PM is defending the indefensible

The Prime Minister has said that the court’s decision has pushed contributions made to parties towards “black money,” referring to the system of political donations that prevailed before the bonds scheme was introduced in 2017.

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Last Updated : 20 April 2024, 01:12 IST
Last Updated : 20 April 2024, 01:12 IST
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It is inappropriate on the part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to continue to defend, and even commend, the Electoral Bonds Scheme, which was struck down as unconstitutional by the Supreme court in February this year.

The Prime Minister has said that the court’s decision has pushed contributions made to parties towards “black money,” referring to the system of political donations that prevailed before the bonds scheme was introduced in 2017.

The Prime Minister said: “When they think honestly, everyone will regret it.”

The BJP has tried to defend Electoral Bonds even after the court’s judgement. It is one thing for a political party and its leaders to defend a law or a decision of the government and criticise the court’s judgement on it, but it is an entirely different matter when the Prime Minister goes to the defence in a matter in which the apex court found not only the scheme itself to be “unconstitutional” but also found the amendments made to key laws governing elections, taxation and corporate affairs to enable such a scheme to be “illegal”. 

The Prime Minister’s arguments are not correct and valid, either. He said the bonds scheme was more transparent than the previous system. But it was indeed over the lack of transparency that the court scrapped it.

The Prime Minister’s definition of transparency seems to be that the donors and recipients of Electoral Bonds were transparent to him and his government through the SBI; the court’s definition of transparency, and the commonly accepted definition of transparency, is that this information – who is funding our political parties – must be transparent to the public, especially the voter.

The court also rejected the government’s argument about curbing black money by pointing out that there are other ways to do so. The government had made provisions that enabled parties not to keep a record of the contributions they received and allowed individuals and companies to make unlimited contributions, even if they were running in losses themselves.

The Prime Minister must explain to the nation what the intent behind these provisions were and whether they served the purpose of transparency or curbing black money.  

The misuse of the scheme, as seen in the many disclosures made after the court forced the SBI to reveal the names of donors, further justified the scrapping of the scheme.

The Prime Minister denied charges about the misuse of the scheme and pointed out that Opposition parties had also received donations from companies. But several cases have come to light in which companies have made donations after they were raided by central investigating agencies. That could only be considered as misuse of the scheme.

If the Opposition parties coerced companies to make donations in states where they were in power, that would also amount to misuse of the scheme. The Prime Minister said there is a need to learn and improve and formulate a new system. That is welcome. But it is unfortunate that he is still defending a scheme that the Supreme Court has dubbed “unconstitutional” and the whole country has come to see as such.

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