‘Using SBI as a shield’: Kharge’s swipe at BJP over bank’s request or time to SC | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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‘Using SBI as a shield’: Kharge’s swipe at BJP over bank’s request or time to SC

ByShriya Ganguly
Mar 05, 2024 04:01 PM IST

The SBI request to seek time till June 30, if allowed, will mean disclosure of donors and recipients of EBs will come only after the upcoming Lok Sabha elections

NEW DELHI: Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge on Tuesday accused the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of using the State Bank of India (SBI) “as a shield to hide its dubious dealings” through electoral bonds after the bank approached the Supreme Court to seek time till June 30 to submit to the Election Commission of India (ECI) details of electoral bonds (EBs) purchased since April 2019.

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge addresses a public meeting at Anantapur in Anantapuramu on Monday. (Congress-X)
Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge addresses a public meeting at Anantapur in Anantapuramu on Monday. (Congress-X)

In its February 15 verdict, the bench struck down the Centre’s 2018 EB political funding scheme, holding it to be “unconstitutional” because it completely anonymised contributions made to political parties. The bench also told the SBI -- the only designated EB-issuing bank -- to submit details of electoral bonds (EBs) purchased since April 12, 2019 to the ECI by March 6.

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“But the BJP wants it to be done after Lok Sabha elections. The tenure of this Lok Sabha will end on 16th June and SBI wants to share the data by 30th June,” said Kharge in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

The SBI request to seek time till June 30, if allowed, will mean disclosure of donors and recipients of EBs will come only after the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, which are expected to be conducted between April and May this year.

“Isn’t the Modi Govt conveniently hiding BJP’s shady dealings where contracts of highways, ports, airports, power plants etc were handed over to Modi ji’s cronies in lieu of these opaque electoral bonds?” said Kharge.

“Experts say that the 44,434 automated data entries of donors can be divulged and matched in just 24 hours, why does the SBI then need 4 more months, to collate this information?” he added.

In its application, SBI said it needs to decode details of 22,217 EBs, which would involve decoding, compiling and comparing 44,434 (twice the number of EBs issued) information sets because the details relating to buyers and recipients of bonds are kept in two different information silos.

The Congress president recalled that his party had been crystal clear from the beginning that the EB scheme was “opaque, undemocratic and destroyed level playing field. But the Modi Govt, PMO and FM bulldozed every institution - RBI, Election Commission, Parliament and Opposition to fill BJP’s coffers. Now a desperate Modi Govt, clutching on straws, is trying to use SBI to bulldoze the Supreme Court’s judgement!”

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