Electoral bonds: Donor-recipient link must be probed thoroughly - The Tribune India

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Electoral bonds

Donor-recipient link must be probed thoroughly

Electoral bonds

Photo for representational purpose only. iStock file photo



THE list of entities which purchased the now-scrapped electoral bonds to make political donations expectedly includes several big names of the corporate world. What has raised eyebrows is the fact that the topper is a little-known lottery company, Future Gaming and Hotel Services. This Coimbatore-headquartered firm, whose director is lottery magnate Santiago Martin, purchased electoral bonds worth Rs 1,368 crore, according to data shared by the State Bank of India (SBI) with the Election Commission of India (ECI) and uploaded by the latter on its website. The second-biggest donor was Megha Engineering and Infrastructures Ltd, which bought bonds worth Rs 966 crore; this Hyderabad-based firm was involved in the Zoji La tunnel project in Kashmir.

The data has shown the electoral bond scheme in a dubious light as around half of the top 30 companies that donated to political parties were under the scanner of the Enforcement Directorate (ED), the CBI and the Income Tax Department; for instance, the ED conducted a probe against Future Gaming in 2022. The disclosure has prompted the Opposition to reiterate its accusations of a quid pro quo between donors and recipients. The BJP has received the highest contributions through electoral bonds, amounting to Rs 6,566 crore or nearly 55 per cent, followed by the Congress and the Trinamool Congress, whose share is around 9 per cent each.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has claimed that the purported connection between the probe agency raids and firms purchasing electoral bonds is based on ‘huge assumptions’. However, the government should not evade its responsibility of ensuring that all details of the bonds are made public. The scheme was recently annulled by the Supreme Court as it ran counter to its avowed objective of bringing transparency in political funding. It is imperative that the cloak of secrecy is lifted completely so that various stakeholders, including political parties and the electorate, can draw their own conclusions ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.


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