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the transparency

Updated: Mar 21

the transparency

 

political parties thrive on donations.

 

like every voluntary organization, political parties too need money to manage their affairs even if it is only to pay the office staff.

 

it is true now as it was in the past. the indian national congress accepted donation in the pre-independence days also and the businessmen did contribute. itis reported that in the forties, birla group donated rs, 36.4 crores to indian national congress (how much is that in current value – may be rs. 3700 crores or more).

 

in the post-independence era, the license permit quota raj was the pivot for political contribution. it was the usual carrot and stick policy. without license, or quota, no industry could thrive. obviously one did not need the income tax authority or the policeman to convince the businessmen about the need to contribute. with no social media, no independent radio or television, the news about coercion were never heard, never seen. there is not the slightest doubt that with so much at stake, the contributions were not mentioned in adverse tones. here and there, there were voices about money and muscle power influencing elections but it did not disturb the overall scenario.

 

with liberalization, the quota, the permit, and the license were slowly removed from the scene. the vacuum had to be filled since the need for finances only multiplied with more parties coming into the field and vying for the funds. obviously those in power got the lion share since the coercion apparatus was with them. the parallel economy was worrisome but it paid and there was conspiracy of silence about it.

 

with demonetization and the solvency act coming in, the parallel economy was shaken, though not eliminated. slowly the attack on the parallel economy picked up. in these circumstances, the need for funding of political parties also underwent a change. the demonetization, the increasing use of payment through electronic means, meant a change in the funding pattern. thus the idea of funding through banks came into being. at the same time, the contributors needed secrecy. with different parties in power in different states, and at the center, the secrecy was all the more important. the electoral bonds were the answer. first, all money paid was through the banks (or rather state bank of india). secondly, the contribution was anonymous. it did not do away completely with cash funding though the limit of rs. 2000 was worrisome.

 

obviously the party in power got the funds proportionately higher. it was always like that, it cannot be otherwise. though it was said to be secret, the contributors concerned were, naturally, eager to inform the party and get a favorable treatment. whether the tax authorities and investigating authorities played a part in that is irrelevant to the contributions received.

 

the need to disclose the contributions would not have been of help. it would have annoyed one party or the other, considering that one in opposition in one state was in power in another and annoyance at not receiving funds , which one thought sufficient was irritant which contributors would not like.

the present disclosure and scrapping of electoral bonds only means reversal of the policy of funding through banks and an indirect incentive for black money to reach the coffers of the party. and then the scope of parallel economy can only be enlarged. the need of funds for running the political parties would not cease. when one avenue is closed, the other has to open. overall effect on economy would be disastrous.

 

it appears that the supreme court, in their anxiety to queer the pitch of political contributions, has, unwittingly, done a disservice to the economy and the country. they may seem to be basking in the extolments being received by them for enforcing transparency, but like the proverbial transparency of see through dress of the king and the claimed expertise of tailors to make clothes which cannot be seen by ordinary mortals, the intended purpose will not be served.

 

in short, the so called transparency decision of supreme court would boomerang in the future.

 

 

 

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