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NDA ally differs on poll bonds

As per the proposal up till now, electoral bonds sold by authorised banks can be deposited in notified accounts of political parties within the duration of their validity

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NDA ally differs on poll bonds
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At a time when the government is giving final touches to its electoral bonds scheme to clean up political funding, NDA ally LJP has told a Parliamentary panel that corporate electoral funds should be distributed to parties only through the Election Commission. The CPI-M has completely disfavoured the idea, announced in the last Union Budget.

The government said in July that it will go ahead with electoral bonds even if consensus eludes on the issue. As per the proposal up till now, electoral bonds sold by authorised banks can be deposited in notified accounts of political parties within the duration of their validity.

However, smaller parties say that unless there is some mechanism to regulate the process, they stand to lose as corporates will fund only the major national parties. Against this backdrop, the LJP, headed by Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, made this submission.

The submission was made before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice last month.

The committee earlier headed by Congress' Anand Sharma was reconstituted this month. BJP general secretary Bhupendra Yadav is now heading it, and is set to take up the issue of electoral reform, which was debated at length in the last committee.

"LJP strongly feels that all the corporate electoral funds should be collected and deposited in the Election Commission of India to be distributed to the political parties on the basis of a formula to be worked out in consultation with all stakeholders," the party said in its written submission.

It has also suggested some other safeguards like distinguishing between corporate funding for parties and for elections. It also batted for a law to be enacted to prohibit contribution by a company for financing elections by putting an embargo on any contribution made after the issue of notification for elections.

In a 12-page written submission, the CPI-M said it is against corporate financing of political parties and candidates, and demanded that all corporate contributions to political parties and candidates must be "totally banned".

Somewhat backing the LJP's stand, it said "if needed, corporates can contribute money to a fund supervised by the Election Commission of India, which can provide public funding for parties during elections".

It also flagged concerns to the concept of electoral bonds, saying under this arrangement, donations of corporates to political parties are "completely concealed from public scrutiny". It said that through this, a route is provided for large-scale donations through electoral bonds which will be kept anonymous and secret, which is "tantamount to legalising political corruption".

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