Electoral bonds will not solve all problems pertaining to transparency in political funding, Chief Election Commissioner A K Joti said today, but hoped that it will be a step in the “right direction”.
Electoral bonds, which were introduced by the government to make funding to political parties transparent, will allow a political donor to purchase bonds from authorised banks and can be redeemed by parties only through registered accounts in a prescribed time frame.
“There will be a banking trail of the donations which will be made. That is one step in the right direction. I have not said it will solve all the problems...Let it (bonds) be rolled out..,” he said, when asked if the usage of these bonds will address issues pertaining to transparency in funding of political parties.
Responding to questions at a press conference on the possible use of electoral bonds by people to fund parties during the upcoming Assembly polls in Meghalaya, Tripura and Nagaland, the CEC said the bonds will “definitely” be used as the finance ministry has already notified their availability.
The press conference was called to announce the Assembly election schedule for northeastern states. He also said that he was “hopeful that it will be a step in the right direction.”
Joti’s remarks come nearly eights months after the EC had told a parliamentary committee that electoral bonds introduced by the government is a “retrograde” step. Asked “what has changed”, as the commission had earlier expressed reservations on the issuance of electoral bonds, Joti maintained, “nothing has changed”.
The commission, in a written submission to the parliamentary standing committee on law and personnel in May, had said changes made in the election laws after the introduction of the bonds would compromise transparency in political fundings.
“The amendment in section 29 C of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 making it no longer necessary to report details of donations received through electoral bonds is a retrograde step as transparency of political funding would be compromised as a result of the change,” it had said.
An electoral bond can be purchased by any citizen of India or a body incorporated in India.
The bonds will be issued in multiples of Rs 1,000, Rs 10,000, Rs 1 lakh, Rs 10 lakh and Rs 1 crore, and will be available at specified branches of the State Bank of India. Donors can donate the bonds to their party of choice which can then be cashed via the party’s verified account within 15 days.
Every party that is registered under section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, and has secured at least one per cent of the votes polled in the most recent Lok Sabha or assembly election will be allotted a verified account by the Election Commission. Electoral bond transactions can be made only via that account.