The Congress on Thursday raised the issue of electoral bonds in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, demanding that the BJP-led government at the Centre must disclose all details about electoral bonds, accusing the government of launching the scheme to destroy transparency in the funding of political parties.
Congress MP from Anandpur Sahib Manish Tiwari said in Lok Sabha that that electoral bonds is a "political bribery scheme" and RTI replies have shown that the Centre refused to pay any heed to serious objections raised by the Reserve Bank of India against the introduction of electoral bonds.
Tiwari remarked that the electoral bonds allow anonymous funders to donate money to political parties through bearer instruments issued by the State Bank of India.
“Firstly, the scheme was limited to the Lok Sabha elections. But before the 2018 Karnataka Assembly elections, the PMO had floated a request for window to be opened for electoral bonds," he told Parliament, adding that electoral bonds scheme was launched by the BJP government to cover up the corruption.
In Rajya Sabha too, the Congress MPs protested against the electoral bonds and demanded that the issue should be discussed in details in the Upper House. Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu, however, rejected the demand of the Congress MPs and adjourned the house. Naidu said that the notices for discussion do not warrant suspension of other businesses to take this up on priority. On the other hand, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla said the issue can be raised in the Zero Hour.
Leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha, Adhir Ranjan Choudhary, urged Speaker Om Birla to allow a discussion on this matter stressing that the issue needs urgent attention. Calling electoral bonds a “scam", Choudhary and other Congress leaders said that the government must disclose all details about electoral bonds before Parliament.
The electoral bonds scheme was introduced by former Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and electoral bonds worth Rs 6,000 crore have been sold so far. According to Association for Democratic Reforms, of the first tranche of Rs 222 crore, a total of 95 per cent of the funds had gone to the BJP.
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor said when electoral bonds were introduced, “many of us had raised serious objections about how it could easily become a way for rich corporations and individuals to influence improperly political parties, particularly the ruling party.”
Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad claimed the electoral bonds resulted in money laundering, and the trail of it “leads straight to the PM's office”. “The BJP govt is running 90 per cent of the business in this country with a few industrialists," Azad said.
Meanwhile, BJP spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao slammed the Congress for created ruckus inside the Parliament over electoral bonds and accused the Congress and Rahul Gandhi of being involved in corruption.