Electoral bonds scheme independent India's biggest scam, says Cong's Jairam Ramesh

Electoral bonds scheme exposed: Congress leader alleges biggest scam in independent India
Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh
Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh

Palghar | Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh on Friday described the electoral bonds scheme as the "biggest scam of independent India", and said the data shared by the Election Commission (EC) on it was "incomplete".

It was the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party's way of "recovery" using the threat of probe agencies and also exhibits its "chanda do, dhanda lo" policy (contracts in return for funds), Ramesh alleged.

He also said the Congress was not against the electronic voting machines (EVMs), but wants the use of voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) in the poll process to ensure that voters know their vote was cast correctly.

Addressing a press conference at Wada in Maharashtra's Palghar district, Ramesh said his party has been seeking an appointment with the ECI since last year, but have not been given an audience yet with the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC).

"Why and of whom is the ECI scared to meet opposition parties," the former Union minister asked.

Referring to the electoral bonds data published on the Election Commission's website, Ramesh said the details were incomplete.

"There are four categories in the list - those who purchased the electoral bonds and got government contracts, those who purchased bonds due to threat of investigating agencies, those who purchased bonds as bribe to get contracts and purchasing through shell companies," he said.

"This is the biggest scam of independent India. We have the option to move the Supreme Court...We will go to the people's court," he said.

Ramesh said the Supreme Court's directive earlier in the day on the scheme will pave the way for information on which party benefitted from these bonds.

The apex court on Friday said the State Bank of India is “duty bound” and has to disclose the unique alpha numeric numbers of the electoral bonds received by political parties.

Ramesh made the remarks a day after the EC put up the data on electoral bonds on its website.

From steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal to billionaire Sunil Bharti Mittal's Airtel, Anil Agarwal's Vedanta, ITC, Mahindra and Mahindra, and a lesser-known company - Future Gaming and Hotel Services - were among the prominent buyers of the now-scrapped electoral bonds for making political donations.

The State Bank of India (SBI), which was the authorised seller of electoral bonds, has said in its data that a total of 22,217 electoral bonds of varying denominations were purchased by donors between April 1, 2019 and February 15 this year, out of which 22,030 were redeemed by political parties.

Speaking about the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra, Ramesh said it was an important way of communicating the Congress' ideology to the public and also creating enthusiasm among party functionaries.

"The ideology of hate is being answered with five years, five justices, 25 guarantees. The Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra will be transformative for the future of the country," Ramesh asserted.

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