BJP has already picked up billions from 'unknown sources': Trinamool Congress

By: | Updated: 02 Feb 2017 08:46 AM
Kolkata: Trinamool Congress alleged that BJP collected billions of rupees from "unknown sources" and is now preaching about electoral reforms.

Party's chief national spokesperson Derek O'Brien also said the Narendra Modi government's decision to cap donations to political parties at Rs 2,000 will not solve anything.

"You want electoral reforms & you bring down the minimum figure from 20k rupees to 2k. Won't solve anything. Who you kidding?" he tweeted.

"And look who is preaching about electoral reforms? The party that has already picked up billions from "unknown sources," the party's leader in Rajya Sabha said.

On the Railway Budget, he said the "grand design" to merge it with the General Budget turned out to be a damp squib.

"This will damage the very core of the transport system," he said.

To ensure greater transparency in political funding, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday sharply cut the cash donation a political party can accept and announced "electoral bonds" to promote legitimate funding of parties.

Presenting the Union Budget for 2017-18, Jaitley said any anonymous cash donation to a political party will now be limited to Rs 2,000 -- a sharp drop from the Rs 20,000 limit earlier -- and that political parties would now have to take donations above Rs 2,000 through cheque and digital payments.

Further, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) would issue bearer bonds that a donor may buy through cheques and digital payments. He or she can then give the bond to a political party which must deposit it within a month in a pre-determined account.

While this gives the donor the option of remaining anonymous both ends of the transaction will happen through the banking system.

The government's decision to reduce cash donations will require political parties receiving a donation above Rs 2,000 to disclose the identity of the donor.

Earlier, most of the political parties had been declaring that a majority of their donations were below Rs 20,000 and thus anonymous.

Jaitley said the government proposes to amend the RBI Act for issuing the electoral bonds under the new scheme.

"This will bring greater reform in political funding while preventing future generation of black money," the Finance Minister said.

He said the government has accepted the Election Commission's recommendation to bring transparency in political funding.

The commission had asked the government, among other things, to bring down the limit of anonymous donations to Rs 2,000.

"Even after 70 years of independence, there is no transparency in political funding. Most donations are received in cash and the donors too hesitate to disclose their identity," Jaitley said.

(With inputs from agencies)
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