Finance minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday ruled out the possibility of state funding of polls, a suggestion floated by various political parties.
While several Opposition parties and the Indrajit Gupta Committee have proposed state funding to offer a level playing field for parties with less money, Jaitley said, “I am open to the idea. But your optimism is based on the fact that when state funding starts, then only such funds will be used in polls and nobody will use private funds in the elections. So your optimism is based on this one belief which is not consistent with Indian reality.”
PM Narendra Modi has reignited the debate on electoral reforms by pushing for simultaneous elections. His views have been echoed by President Pranab Mukherjee.
Taking a cue from the PM, Jaitley said the government had come up with solutions to bring about transparency in electoral funding but if the opposition found fault with every reform, “it won’t take us anywhere”.
Talking about the new reforms to check unaccounted money in the political system, Jaitley said the proposed electoral bonds will maintain anonymity of donors.
“Many people donating to a political party usually don’t like to disclose their identity as they fear repercussions from rival political parties. Through purchasing electoral bonds, they can keep their identity secret, but the money would come on paper,” Jaitley said.
The minister also said electoral bonds will be bearer bonds with a tenure of few days.
The bonds will resemble a promissory note and will be sold by authorised banks. These bonds can then be deposited in notified accounts of political parties within a particular time frame.
Opposition parties and election watchdogs had expressed concerns that the move will not check the inflow of black money. Jaitley, however, said people prefer to give donations in cash because it has anonymity.
“…We have made a major serious effort to legitimise this. We have said that you pay by cheque, then donor and donee both will get tax advantage. We have said pay by digital mode,” he said in his reply to the budget discussion.