Electoral bonds data: Who gave how much to which party? The guessing game is on...

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh and other leaders accused the BJP of using “electoral bonds for quid pro quo”. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman dismissed such speculations as “assumptions”.

Akriti Anand
Updated15 Mar 2024, 07:50 PM IST
Electoral bonds case: Congress leader Jairam Ramesh (left). Finance Minister and BJP leader Nirmala Sitharaman.
Electoral bonds case: Congress leader Jairam Ramesh (left). Finance Minister and BJP leader Nirmala Sitharaman.

Several political leaders and social media users resorted to crunching numbers, finding links and making assumptions about the quid pro quo between companies and political parties. This was soon after the Election Commission of India made public the details of electoral bond donors and buyers on Thursday, March 14.

The Election Commission released two sets of data on Thursday. One has the names of purchasers of electoral bonds and the other has details of donations/amounts received by political parties in the form of electoral bonds.

Follow Electoral Bonds Data Live updates here

However, there's no way to find out which donor/company donated how much to which political parties. This was despite the Supreme Court raising concerns in its February 15 judgement that the now-scrapped Electoral Bond Scheme can lead to quid pro quo.

In later rulings, the Supreme Court said the State Bank of India (SBI) does not need to match the names of electoral bond buyers with specific political parties. On Friday, the court, however, asked the SBI to share the unique alphanumeric code printed on each electoral bond, which helps match donors with political parties.

While the details of the unique alphanumeric code are awaited, many on social media, including political leaders, started making conjectures about which companies might have donated crores to political parties, especially the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

What are the claims being made?

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh launched a scathing attack on the BJP, accusing the party of using "electoral bonds for quid pro quo". He retweeted a social media post which shared a thread on top companies that made huge political donations and were given contacts in BJP-ruled states. The links were established between raids by central probe agencies on firms and their subsequent donations in the form of electoral bonds.

In another tweet, Ramesh alleged that "there are many cases of companies that have donated electoral bonds, and immediately afterwards gotten huge benefits from the government". One of the examples he gave was of Jindal Steel & Power, which he said “gave Rs. 25 crores in EBs on 7 October 2022, and just 3 days later, they won the Gare Palma IV/6 coal mine, on 10th October 2022.”

Lawyer and activist Prashant Bhushan also tweeted, “On 11 April 23, Megha Engineering gives 100s Crs in Electoral Bonds to whom? But within a month it gets a 14,400 cr contract from BJP’s Mah govt!...”

Meanwhile, Shiv Sena UBT leader and Rajya Sabha MP Priyanka Chaturvedi also shared a video and said, “Here’s Megha Engineering and its subsidiaries’ Acche Din after becoming the big donor for BJP. There’s more to unravel in this entire Quid Pro Quo via electoral bonds saga. The role of ED aka Extortion Department has also been stellar.”

At the same time, RJD leader Manoj Jha alleged that a Pakistani agency bought electoral bonds. "The data shows that shortly after the Pulwama terror attack, a Pakistani agency purchased electoral bonds. So much for the nationalistic pretensions of the BJP, which stands exposed as the most corrupt party in the history of Independent India," he told PTI. 

ALSO READ: Electoral bonds: 10 biggest revelations as SBI, Election Commission release detailed data

Manoj Jha also said "a private company was raided by the Enforcement Directorate and, a few days later, it ended up purchasing electoral bonds. Anybody can join the dots and make out what the so-called largest political party of the world has been up to".

Nirmala Sitharaman calls claims ‘assumptions’

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Friday that huge "assumptions" have been made after the release of data on the Electoral Bond Scheme.

Sitharaman dismissed as "assumptions" the links between raids by probe agencies on companies and their subsequent donations to election bonds. “…They probably gave it to regional parties….what makes you make so many assumptions and build a narrative,” she told opposition leaders.

"I think you've based yourself on huge assumptions, that the money was given after the Enforcement Directorate raid happened," Sitharaman was quoted by PTI as saying at the India Today Conclave.

ALSO READ: Electoral bonds data: Congress takes ‘na khaunga, na khane dunga’ jibe at PM Modi, demands freezing of BJP accounts | Mint

She, however, admitted that while the electoral bond system might not be perfect, it was "one bit better" than the previous system of political funding that was "completely imperfect". She batted for a system in which transparency would be better than earlier systems. Watch video here

"The electoral bond system may not be perfect. We must take lessons from the Supreme Court judgement on electoral bonds. There may or may not be a new law around this, I'm not commenting on it. Will make efforts to make sure there is transparency," Sitharaman said.

The Congress' Jairam Ramesh hit back at Sitharaman over her statement, “If these ‘assumptions’ are untrue, then we invite her to release the full data of who donated how much to which political party. It will put an end to the discussion once and for all,” he said.

The Election Commission made public names of companies and individuals, as received from the SBI on March 12, who had donated crores of rupees to political parties under the electoral bond system that had kept their identities secret.

The top buyers of scrapped electoral bonds were Future Gaming and Hotel Services, Megha Engineering and Infrastructure Ltd, Qwik Supply Chain Private Ltd, Vedanta Ltd, Haldia Energy Ltd and Bharati Group.

Meanwhile, the BJP, Trinamool Congress, and the Congress are among the top three political parties that benefitted from the electoral bonds, according to data uploaded by the Election Commission on its website on Thursday.

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First Published:15 Mar 2024, 07:50 PM IST
HomeNewsElectoral bonds data: Who gave how much to which party? The guessing game is on...

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