Electoral bonds are a relatively new phenomenon in the Indian political landscape, introduced in 2018 as a way to reform the way political parties receive funds for their campaigns. But with the recent revelations about the use of electoral bonds by political parties and the lack of transparency surrounding their use, many are now questioning whether electoral bonds are legalizing political corruption in India.
What are Electoral Bonds?
Electoral bonds are financial instruments that can be bought by individuals and corporations to donate to political parties. These bonds can be redeemed by political parties at designated banks, which then transfer the money to the party’s account. The bonds are designed to provide anonymity to donors, as the identity of the donor is not disclosed to the public or the political party.
Lack of Transparency and Accountability
One of the biggest concerns about electoral bonds is the lack of transparency and accountability surrounding their use. Unlike traditional donations, electoral bonds do not require the donor’s identity to be disclosed to the public or the political party. This lack of transparency means that political parties can receive funds from unknown sources, which could include illegal and unaccounted-for funds.
Legalising Political Corruption
Electoral bonds are criticized for making it simple for businesses and people to buy political influence due to the anonymity they offer. Concerns regarding the potential for reciprocal agreements between political parties and corporations have been raised as a result of the bonds’ increasing popularity as a means for corporations to donate to political parties anonymously. It is challenging to identify any such arrangements due to the electoral bond system’s lack of transparency and accountability.
The Way Forward
The issue of electoral bonds has become a contentious one, with political parties on both sides of the aisle defending their use. However, it is clear that the lack of transparency and accountability in the electoral bond system is a major concern. To address these concerns, electoral bonds should be made transparent, with the identity of the donor disclosed to the public and political party through their filings to EC and PIL. This would ensure that the electoral bond system is not used to facilitate illegal activities or to buy political influence. Additionally, there need to be more robust regulations in place to prevent the use of electoral bonds to launder money or fund illegal activities along with regulations regarding the maximum permissible amount that a single entity can donate to a party or candidate both during election campaigns as well as post elections.
In conclusion, electoral bonds were introduced with the intention of reforming the political funding system in India. However, the lack of transparency and accountability surrounding their use has raised serious concerns about their legality. It is imperative that the Indian government takes action to address these concerns and ensure that electoral bonds do not become a means for legalizing political corruption in the country.