Electoral Bond Ban May Boost Black Money: Amit Shah

   

NEW DELHI: Home Minister Amit Shah believes the influence of black money will increase during the ongoing Lok Sabha elections following the Supreme Court’s decision to scrap the electoral bond scheme, and suggested all stakeholders will have to deliberate and decide on an alternative.

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If the impact of black money rises, then an alternative should be found, he said, adding that it is for Parliament to debate and decide on any other mechanism for funding to political parties.

He told PTI in an interview on Saturday that the electoral bond scheme, which allowed donors to fund political parties anonymously by purchasing bonds from the SBI, was scrapped at a crucial time.

The Supreme Court had struck down the scheme in February, a month before the Lok Sabha elections were announced.

Replying to a question on the issue, he said, “I believe and this is my guess that it will increase the influence of black money in elections and politics. When political parties submit their account for this fiscal year, then how much money is by cash donation and how much is through cheque will be known. The donation figure by cheques had reached 96 per cent at the time of the bond.”

He added, “Now you will know. If the impact of black money rises, then an alternative should be found. There should be a debate in Parliament.”

Asked if he thought the influence of black money would increase in the ongoing elections due to the scrapping of the electoral bond scheme, Shah said, “I guess so.”

When asked what he considered an alternative to the bond scheme, he said the issue needed to be discussed with all stakeholders, including different political parties.

He said, “This will have to be debated in Parliament. We will have to discuss this with all parties. The Supreme Court’s view since their judgment has come is also very important. The Attorney General and Solicitor General will also have to be consulted. So we will have to deliberate collectively and decide on a new alternative.”

The apex court had struck down the electoral bond scheme, saying it violated the right to information and the freedom of speech and expression under the Constitution. The court had also made public the names of all donors and their beneficiaries.

The central government, has, however, insisted that the scheme was aimed at curbing the influence of black money in politics and that donors were allowed to remain anonymous so that they were not targeted by one political party or another for funding their rival parties.

Opposition parties have alleged that the scheme was used by the BJP to “legitimise” bribery by business interests, a charge rejected by the ruling party as it claimed that its rivals received more funding relative to their electoral strength.

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