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Arun Jaitley defends electoral bonds, asks opponents to come up with better alternatives

The EC had said in its affidavit that the electoral bonds have made political funding opaque and would have "serious repercussions on transparency of political funding".

Arun Jaitley defends electoral bonds, asks opponents to come up with better alternatives

NEW DELHI: Defending the electoral bonds scheme, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday said if donors will be forced to disclose their names, then cash and black money will make a comeback in the system of political funding.

It is interesting to note that the Election Commission on Tuesday filed an affidavit before the Supreme Court, which is already hearing the matter, expressing concern over the electoral bonds. The EC had said in its affidavit that the electoral bonds have made political funding opaque and would have "serious repercussions on transparency of political funding".

The electoral bond scheme was introduced by the BJP-led government at the Centre in 2018 as an alternative to cash donations. The government had then said that the aim was to make transparency in political funding as under the new scheme the name of the donor is known only to banks.

"If you ask people to disclose that (identity of a donor) also, then I am afraid the cash system will be back," he said, asking people who are opposing the scheme to suggest some other alternatives which can help in checking the use of black money during elections.

"There is a particular psychic of individuals, particularly in NGO sector, that they don't suggest a solution but they have a problem with every solution. The EC ... Has also succeeded in many, many areas and became an extremely successful role model Election Commission. But money it has not been able to control," said the Union Finance Minister.

The State Bank of India has recently revealed that it had sold electoral bonds worth Rs 1,716 crore in January and March, while bonds worth Rs 1,056 crore were sold in six months in 2018, PTI reported.

The pleas challenging the validity of the Centre's decision to issue electoral bonds will be heard on April 5 by a Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi.

Jaitley also attacked the non-NDA parties for planning to form a federal front ahead of the general elections, saying this is a dangerous idea for the country.

"I think we need to improve our pace of growth, to eradicate poverty, need further enrichment... I think we need decisiveness, need coherence and a five-year government and not a six-month government," he said.

"My own assessment is not in this election, but by the next general election 2024, India's middle class and neo middle class will be the largest vote component. And therefore if that's the trend, the quality of public discourse in policies will have to be completely different. Governments, politicians, ministers, leaders, manifestos will be tasted and judged by much harsher standards," he added.