This story is part of #PaisaPolitics, HuffPost India’s investigation into how the Modi government brought untraceable funds into Indian politics.
NEW DELHI — Eager to legalise a route to anonymously funnel corporate money into the coffers of political parties, the Narendra Modi-led government dismissed the Election Commission of India’s strident opposition to electoral bonds, lied to the Indian Parliament and finally resorted to a hurried cover-up when its mis-statements were caught out.
Previously unpublished documents obtained by HuffPost India reveal that three senior bureaucrats came up with six different convoluted explanations to protect then-Minister of State P. Radhakrishnan when he was caught lying about electoral bonds on the floor of the Parliament, Indian democracy’s most hallowed ground.
A confidential note, included in the documents, show senior bureaucrats knowingly sought to mislead Election Commission officials in an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to blunt the EC’s opposition to electoral bonds.
The Election Commission wasn’t the only one to see its suggestions summarily disregarded. The government made a show of asking opposition political parties for their views on the matter, even as the finance ministry continued to design the scheme without waiting to hear back from them or responding to their queries.
Taken as a whole, the documents reviewed by HuffPost India expose the Modi government’s doublespeak on electoral bonds, a controversial financial instrument first unveiled in 2017 by then finance minister Arun Jaitley, that allows any corporation, trust, NGO or individual to donate unlimited amounts of money to India’s political parties.