The interesting part about electoral bonds is that no one can ask questions about the source of money. It is not an exaggeration to say that in barely three years of its existence, these instruments have turned the whole process of political funding in India even more opaque and mysterious.
Gods can work miracles where humans are helpless. BJP’s maverick parliamentarian, Subramanian Swamy, thinks inscribing the image of Hindu Goddess Lakshmi (goddess of wealth) on the currency note may improve the condition of the Indian currency. For an economy that is projected to grow at the lowest pace in last 11-years in FY20, the advice of a senior party leader is worth pondering.
As such, the idea isn’t new. For instance, Indonesia which has Lord Ganesha (remover of obstacles) on its currency notes. Why not something similar in India? In fact, India has lot more options other than Goddess Lakshmi. For instance, Christian parliamentarians could propose image of Jesus Christ on Indian bills; Budhha or Guru Nanak can bring good luck as well. The Indian currency could do with some divine intervention, given that it has lost nearly 11 percent in the last two two years between 2018 and 2020 (64 to 71 against US dollar).
It’s raining money for BJP
While those possibilities can be debated, one thing is certain. If at all the Goddess of wealth has improved anyone’s financial condition in the last fiscal year, (2018-2019), it is that of the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP). In FY19, BJP has amassed Rs1,451 crore through electoral bonds and is ahead by a huge margin compared with the principal opposition party, Congress which managed only Rs383 crore, according to latest report by Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR). BJP has shown the highest income amongst the National Parties, an income of Rs 2,410.08 cr during FY 2018-19. This forms 65.16 percent of the total income of six national parties during FY 2018-19. The Congress party has declared the second highest income of Rs 918.03 crore which forms 24.82 percent of the total income of the 6 national parties, the report said.
No questions asked
The interesting part about electoral bonds is that no one can ask questions about the source of money. It is not an exaggeration to say that in barely three years of its existence, these instruments have turned the whole process of political funding in India even more opaque and mysterious. Electoral bonds clearly lack transparency and can effectively act as a channel for exchange of monetary and political favours between politicians and corporations. The irony is that even the income tax department cannot question the political parties about the source of the money. In other words, this means companies can channel even unaccounted cash through electoral bonds to bribe political parties in a legitimate manner.
The relevance of Narada
Transparency in political funding is a long-forgotten promise by the ruling party. To be sure, other political parties too, including the Congress, have largely kept mum on exposing the farce called electoral bonds since everyone benefits from these clandestine instruments. Remember, the unholy political-corporate nexus is the root cause of corruption and black money in any economy. Unless political funding is cleaned up, as many experts have pointed out time and again, it is difficult to kill black money in an economy. Perhaps, more than Goddess Lakshmi on currency notes, what we need right now is a Narada Muni on electoral bonds, the heavenly messenger and a story teller in Hindu mythology, to tell us the real story of these mysterious financial instruments. The world’s largest democracy deserves to know who is funding whom in domestic politics.
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