Once again, the Government has approved the sale of 28th tranche of electoral bonds with effect from October4 lasting ten days and as usual, it is slotted few weeks before the assembly elections to the five states. As usual, the BJP will be getting another big bounty in their election campaign kitty since about 80 to 90 per cent of the funds go to the ruling party. The centre is shamefully allowing the present electoral bond rules to be used in favour of the BJP at the cost of the other opposition parties but still the Supreme Court is sitting on the petition which has been pending for long.
The original electoral bonds scheme 2017 was challenged in the Supreme Court by many petitioners since its implementation beginning 2018 but only in April this year, the CJI Dr. D Y Chandrachud indicated that he would decide about the setting up of a five member Constitution bench to hear the petitions. After that, no hearing has been held.
In the case of the 25th tranche of the electoral bonds, the Narendra Modi government violated propriety by amending in a hurry the rules of the electoral bonds scheme on November7 last year to allow the sale for extra fifteen days during the year when the elections were due in states and union territories.
As per the rules, , the bonds are available for purchase for a period of 10 days in the months of January, April, July and October. An additional 30 days window is allowed in the years of general elections. And now through the latest amendment, the centre allowed another tranche in November 2022 before the assembly polls in Himachal and Gujarat last year.
In the last five years since the electoral bonds sale started in January 2018, the BJP has spent thousands of crores of rupees in destabilising state governments in Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and bought MLAs to form governments in Goa and Manipur. In Maharashtra, it was clear as daylight that huge funds– were mobilised to ensure the defection of the Eknath Shinde group from the Shiv Sena led by Uddhav Thackeray in July2022.
Subsequently, the Shinde-BJP government was formed there. In all these moves to destabilize the opposition governments, the BJP made use of its huge available funds mobilised through corporate donations, electoral bonds money as also overseas donations. The electoral trusts of the corporates also granted funds to the political parties and there also, the BJP garnered more than 80 per cent of the funds in the recent years.
The funding from the bonds or the poll trusts is all one way to BJP as the companies who donate do not want to antagonise the ruling party at the Centre and invite action through IT Dept, the CBI or the ED. It was apparent when the Bajaj family scion Rajeev Bajaj was apprehensive of attacks by the central agencies after his interaction with Rahul Gandhi last year.
This fear among the Indian corporates is so overwhelming that even the young scions of the industrial families who are forward looking and do not like the BJP, keep silent as they are not ready to risk the future of their companies just for the sake of some liberal personal thinking.
The net result is that there is no level playing field in the elections. The BJP is in a position to spend more than ten times money compared to the Opposition parties. It has a huge war chest to engineer defections when that is needed.
In the last nine years of Narendra Modi rule, there has been an unusual concentration of wealth in the Indian corporate sector. A recent study suggests that India’s twenty most profitable firms generated 14 per cent of the total corporate profits in 1990, 30 per cent in 2010 and 70 per cent in 2019.
This means that there was a steep jump in the concentration of wealth in a few corporate houses just during the first five years of Narendra Modi’s rule. This process have got further accentuated in the last four years. This has been a result of friendly collaboration between the ruling party BJP and the big industrialists who have been benefited during the present rule of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The INDIA constituents have to focus on this quid pro quo between the Indian crony capitalists and the Narendra Modi regime and demand a probe into how the big corporates are funding the ruling party BJP as a part of their long-term arrangement. Their legal experts must press on early hearing of the pending petition in the Supreme Court so that the learned judges can at least order a stay on the electoral bonds scheme till its final disposal. This is imperative for the sustenance of the democracy in the country by establishing a level playing field between the contesting parties. (IPA Service)