'Pradhan Mantri Hafta Vasuli Yojana': Cong's swipe at govt over electoral bonds issue

Stepping up its attack on the Centre over the electoral bonds issue, the Congress on Monday accused the Modi government of "hafta vasuli" (extortion) and claimed that a total of 21 firms which have faced investigations from the CBI, ED, or IT, have donated through electoral bonds.
Congress on Electoral bonds
Congress on Electoral bonds

New Delhi | Stepping up its attack on the Centre over the electoral bonds issue, the Congress on Monday accused the Modi government of "hafta vasuli" (extortion) and claimed that a total of 21 firms which have faced investigations from the CBI, ED, or IT, have donated through electoral bonds.

Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said that with each passing day, more examples emerge on the true depths of the "electoral bond scam".

"Today, we zoom in on the 'Pradhan Mantri Hafta Vasuli Yojana', the second of the four channels of corruption in the Electoral Bond Scam: 1.Chanda Do, Dhandha Lo 2.Hafta Vasuli," Ramesh said in a post on X.

On November 10, 2022, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) arrested P Sarath Chandra Reddy, the director of Aurobindo Pharma, in connection with its money laundering case pertaining to alleged irregularities in the Delhi government's liquor policy and five days later, on November 15, Aurobindo Pharma donated electoral bonds worth Rs 5 crore, he claimed.

"Navayuga Engineering Company Limited bought electoral bonds worth Rs 30 crore in April 2019, six months after it was raided by the Income Tax Department in October 2018," he said.

In the early hours of December 7, 2023, three units of Rungta Sons Pvt. Ltd. in Ramgarh were raided by the Income Tax Department and on January 11, 2024, the company purchased 50 electoral bonds worth Rs 1 crore each, Ramesh alleged Before this, the firm only donated in April 2021, he pointed out.

"Hyderabad-based Shirdi Sai Electricals Limited faced income tax raids on December 20 2023. On January 11, 2024, the company purchased electoral bonds worth Rs 40 crore," the Congress leader claimed.

"In November 2023, Income Tax officials raided an employee of Reddy's Labs, for alleged cash transactions. Just after the raids, the company purchased electoral bonds worth Rs 31 crore, followed by Rs 21 crore in November 2023, and Rs 10 crore in January 2024, adding up to Rs 84 crore," he alleged.

"These are just key examples: a total of 21 firms who have faced investigations from the CBI, ED, or IT, have donated electoral bonds after the fact," Ramesh said.

He also alleged that the government indulged in 'Theka Lo, Rishvat Do' (get business, at a bribe) and through 'Farzi Company' (shell companies).

"Remember, the IT Department and the ED implement the Pradhan Mantri Hafta Vasuli Yojana. The State Bank of India implements the #ElectoralBondScam. And at the end of the day, all of these institutions report to the same person: the Finance Minister," Ramesh alleged.

The Congress on Sunday charged the government with engaging in "quid pro quo" for receiving electoral bonds and "conspiring" to route black money into the BJP's accounts through the scheme.

Ramesh had said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah were answerable on the electoral bond "scam".

Following a Supreme Court directive, the State Bank of India (SBI), which was the authorised seller of electoral bonds, shared the data with the poll panel on March 12.

The SBI said 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.

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