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“Are Donations to Opposition through Electoral Bonds also Extortion?” Asks Amit Shah

“Are Donations to Opposition through Electoral Bonds also Extortion?” Asks Amit Shah

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Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, Apr 19:  In a bid to defend the Narendra Modi government’s electoral bonds scheme which has since been banned by the Supreme Court for being “unconstitutional,” the union home minister Amit Shah launched a counter-attack against the opposition asking whether the donations the non-BJP parties received through the electoral bonds would also be termed as “extortion.”

Mr Shah was reacting to the Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s claim that the huge amount of donations the ruling BJP received through the electoral bonds was nothing but “extortion.” The ruling party used the central agencies to instil a sense of fear among the industrial houses and extorted donations from them, Mr Gandhi had alleged.

Mr Shah asked if the Opposition parties would also describe donations they received through bonds as “extortion.” Mr Shah’s remarks were a sharp response to Mr Gandhi, who has said the electoral bonds system was the “world’s biggest extortion scheme” and called Prime Minister Narendra Modi as “champion of corruption.”

Responding to the Opposition parties charge on the issue in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls, Mr Shah said, “Their parties have also received donations through bonds. Is that extortion as well? Rahul Gandhi must tell the people, yes, we have also extorted. And the donation they have received in proportion to the number of MPs is more than what we got. They don’t have an issue, there is no allegation of corruption against us. So they are trying to create confusion. They won’t be successful.”

In a landmark verdict on February 15, the Supreme Court scrapped the electoral bonds scheme on the grounds that it violates the citizens’ right to information. The scheme, Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud said, was unconstitutional and arbitrary and may lead to a quid pro quo arrangement between political parties and donors.

The Constitution bench of five judges held that the stated objective of fighting black money and maintaining the confidentiality of donors cannot defend the scheme. Electoral bonds, the court said, were not the only way to curb black money.

Subsequently, in data released by State Bank of India and made public by Election Commission of India, the BJP was found to have received maximum funds through these bonds — ₹ 6,986.5 crore — since they were introduced in 2018. The BJP was followed by Trinamool Congress at ₹ 1,397 crore and Congress at ₹ 1,334 crore.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday accused previous governments of cheating SC, ST and OBC communities in the name of social justice, and said he was working to fulfil the dreams of Jyotiba Phule, Dr BR Ambedkar and Chaudhary Charan Singh.

Addressing an election rally at Amroha in Uttar Pradesh, Mr Modi said, “Previous governments have only cheated the people of SC (Scheduled Caste), ST (Scheduled Tribe) and OBC (Other Backward Classes) communities in the name of social justice.” “Modi is working day and night to achieve the social justice dream of Jyotiba Phule, Ambedkar and (former Prime Minister) Chaudhary Charan Singh,” he added.

In a veiled attack on Mr Gandhi and Samajwadi Party (SP) president Akhilesh Yadav, Mr Modi said, “The shooting of the film, ‘do shehzade ki jodi (pair of two princes)‘, is going on. But their film has already been rejected.

“Every time these people go out to seek votes from the people of Uttar Pradesh, they carry a basket of dynasty, corruption and appeasement. They do not leave any chance to attack our faith.” Hitting out at the Congress candidate from Amroha, Danish Ali, the prime minister claimed that he has objections in saying “Bharat Mata ki Jai.”

“Will a person, who cannot accept Bharat Mata ki Jai, look good in the Indian Parliament? Should such a person be allowed entry into the Indian Parliament?” he asked the rally.

Slamming the opposition, Mr Modi said, “The SP and the Congress declined the invitation to the Ram temple’s consecration ceremony in Ayodhya. People hankering for vote banks refused the invitation to the ceremony.

“They are not satisfied after refusing the invitation, so they abuse the Ram temple and Sanatan Dharma. The SP, for its vote bank, call Ram bhakts ‘pakhandi’ (hypocrite). Those in the INDIA bloc hate Sanatan Dharma.” The prime minister alleged that when he went under the sea to offer prayers in Gujarat’s Dwarka, where Lord Krishna had gone from Amroha, “the prince of the Congress said there is nothing to pray under the sea. They are rejecting our faith only for their vote banks.”

Hitting out at Mr Yadav and Bihar’s Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav, he said, “Those in Bihar who say they are Yaduvanshis, in Uttar Pradesh, the leader who takes the benefits of being a Yaduvanshi, I want to ask them, how can they sit with a party that insults Lord Krishna? How can you have an agreement with them?” Accusing vote-bank politics for communal riots, Mr Modi said, “This vote-bank politics burnt western Uttar Pradesh in the fire of riots. The people of Uttar Pradesh can never forget that era of Goonda Raj. People had to migrate because of it.

“But Yogiji (Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath) got rid of criminals for your safety. We must ensure that these forces are not strengthened again in any manner.” The prime minister began his speech with an appeal to people to vote. “I appeal to everyone to exercise their right to vote given by the Constitution,” he said. Mr Modi emphasised that youngsters should especially go out and vote to secure their future and that of the country.




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