Congress Terms Electoral Bonds ‘Threat To Democracy’, Demands JPC Probe
Manish Tewari addressing a gathering at 17th India Trilateral Forum in the U.S. (Source: Verified Twitter account of Manish Tewari). 

Congress Terms Electoral Bonds ‘Threat To Democracy’, Demands JPC Probe

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Stepping up its attack on the Centre over the electoral bonds issue, the Congress on Thursday sought an inquiry by a joint parliamentary committee into these "opaque" donations, which, it termed a "threat to democracy".

The demand came a day after the party launched a scathing attack on the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government at the Centre over the electoral bond issue, with its chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala describing it as a "modus operandi to receive thousands of crores from big business houses through secret donations".

Citing news reports based on RTI documents, Surjewala had said, "the intrigue and the conspiracy has now indicted the prime minister himself. RTI documents now establish the role and indict none less than the prime minister himself." The Congress raised the issue in both the Houses of Parliament on Thursday.

Addressing a press conference in Parliament premises, Congress leader Manish Tewari said the party will continue to raise the issue in the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha as it considers electoral bonds a "threat to democracy".

Also read: BJP Says Electoral Bonds Brought In Clean Money In Electoral Politics

Reiterating his party's demand for a full-fledged discussion on the electoral bonds issue in both the Houses of Parliament, he said, "Parliament is the appropriate forum to discuss the damage which these bonds are doing to our democracy." "We are asking for a full-fledged discussion on electoral financing... political financing with electoral bonds being integral part of that. We are specifically asking for a joint committee to look into the entire scheme of bearer electoral bonds," Tewari said.

The party also sought an early decision by the Supreme Court on the legality of these bonds.

"Electoral bonds and their completely opaque nature is a fundamental threat to democracy. Democracy is a function of public trust," Tewari said.

Claiming that there were issues with regard to the fact that Parliament was misled, Tewari asserted that there are "hugely problematic issues" with the electoral bonds which have emerged from "whatever document is available in public space".

He further said the ruling party was trying to make the country's democracy "hostage to the influence of big money".

"You are skidding down the slippery slope. And it is not really evident when that skid is going to stop," Tewari said.

The framers of the Constitution and the successive governments 1952 onwards put in place a very robust legal architecture to insulate the country's political processes from the "pernicious influence of big money", the Congress leader said.

"In 2017, under guise of a finance bill and without structured discussion in Parliament on electoral campaign financing or political campaign financing, the BJP-led NDA government smuggled these opaque electoral bonds into our political system," he alleged.

"With one stroke, the BJP dismantled the entire structure, amended the Representation of the People Act, whereby they ensured that these anonymous donations do not have to divulge the details even to the Election Commission," he said.

Also read: Secret Policing? The Quint Finds Hidden Numbers on Electoral Bonds

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