Home >Opinion >Quick Edit >Opinion | Of electoral bondage

The Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are engaged in a war of words over electoral bonds. These have been contentious ever since they were introduced two years ago, with the opposition alleging that a vast bulk of these have ended up in the coffers of India’s ruling party. The BJP defends this as a reflection of its political pre-eminence. One substantive problem with electoral bonds has been flagged by the Election Commission (EC), which is against the anonymity built into the scheme: neither the companies buying these bonds nor the parties receiving the money are required to make any disclosures. With both voters and shareholders in the dark, nudges and winks over covert corporate funding of political parties refuses to die down. The Supreme Court earlier this year ruled in favour of transparency and directed political parties to make disclosures to the EC about funding via these bonds.

By design, State Bank of India, which is tasked with issuing electoral bonds, is privy to donor details and is required to share them with select government agencies on demand (in case of an official probe, for example). Recent media reports suggest the process of issuing the bonds may not be as secure as has been made to be. The very prospect of information asymmetry, with the ruling party at an advantage, seems to load the dice in its favour. But what’s the alternative? Bags of cash?

Instead of scoring debating points, India’s political parties would serve their voters better by voluntarily opening themselves to greater public scrutiny. That would be a day to see, wouldn’t it?

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