Modi PMO Ordered Illegal Electoral Bond Sale Before Vital State Polls

Nitin Sethi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with thousands of people takes part in Yoga Session on International Day of Yoga at Ramabai Ambedkar Maidan on June 21, 2017 in Lucknow.

This story is part of #PaisaPoliticsHuffPost India’s investigation into how the Modi government brought untraceable funds into Indian politics. You can read the first part here, the second here and the fourth here

NEW DELHI — On January 2, 2018, the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government notified the rules governing the controversial new electoral bonds scheme. 

Soon, Prime Minister Modi’s office ordered that these rules be broken to allow for an illegal sale of electoral bonds. This was first justified as an exception and then made into a practice.

The electoral bond scheme, implemented over the fervent objections of the Reserve Bank of India, the Election Commission of India and India’s opposition political parties, legalised the influence of big business in India’s elections by providing them and others a route to secretly donate to parties and opened the doors for offshore money to pour into Indian politics. 

Read why the RBI and Election Commission opposed electoral bonds. 

First announced in Arun Jaitley’s 2017 budget day speech, the bonds offered complete anonymity to donors. The donor would not need to divulge the source of funds and the political party would not need to disclose who it got the funds from. Another change, implemented at the same time, removed limits on election funding by corporations—meaning they could now funnel as much money as they wanted to the parties of their choice.

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To this end, in January 2018, the government specified four 10-day windows in January, April, July and October each year when the State Bank of India (SBI) would sell these bonds to donors. The rules also allowed for an additional 30 days sale of electoral bonds in years when a general election was scheduled. 

Now, previously unpublished government documents, obtained by transparency activist Commodore Lokesh Batra...

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