Those ‘dancing over’ electoral bonds data are going to repent, says PM Narendra Modi

Those “dancing over” the electoral bonds data and taking pride in it are going to repent, Prime Minister Narendra Modi claimed in an interview on Sunday.

“Tell me what have we done that I should see as a setback,” the prime minister said during the interview with Thanthi TV. “If a trail is available today, it is because of the presence of bonds.”

The prime minister made the comments when asked if the electoral bonds data shared by the State Bank of India had caused a setback to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

“No system is perfect,” he said. “There can be shortcomings, which could be improved upon.”

The Supreme Court had on February 15 said that the electoral bonds could lead to quid pro quo arrangements between donors and political parties when it struck down the scheme as unconstitutional.

Electoral bonds were paper instruments that anyone could buy from the State Bank of India and give to a political party, which could redeem them for money. The scheme was introduced by the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Union government in 2018.

The entire process was anonymous since buyers were not required to declare their purchase of these interest-free bonds and political parties did not need to show the source of the money, before the scheme was struck down. Therefore, the scheme ensured anonymity between donors and beneficiaries.

The court had directed the State Bank of India to issue details of the political parties that received electoral bonds from April 12, 2019, and submit them to the Election Commission. In the initial set of data released on court orders, the State Bank of India had not revealed the unique alphanumeric numbers and serial numbers of the electoral bonds.

It was only after petitioners in the case approached the court that the bank shared the alphanumeric and serial numbers of electoral bonds that are used to match donations with the parties that received them.

Analysis of data shared by the State Bank of India after the Supreme Court’s direction revealed that the BJP received the lion’s share of electoral bond donations. Some of the buyers of the electoral bonds were companies that had faced raids by central agencies.

Read more analysis on this topic by Project Electoral Bond, a collaborative project involving Scroll, The News Minute, Newslaundry and independent journalists.

Also read: Why the electoral bond expose might not hurt the BJP

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