Dismissing the electoral bonds scheme as “no reform”, Janata Dal-United (JD-U) leader Pavan Varma on Friday advocated “digital tracking” of political financing and said that a panel of auditors should go through the accounts of parties.
The central government recently notified a scheme of electoral bonds in a bid to clean the system and bring transparency in political funding in the country.
“Today, with digital tracking of financial transactions, far greater inclusive transparency can be engineered to ensure that parties and politicians are more accountable. Also, what is the harm if you set up a panel of national auditors who will go through the accounts of political parties and put it on the website? The parties have to account for money received and money spent,” he said.
Varma said the Election Commission has proposed a series of steps which were lying before Parliament for years and no political party was willing to act upon them.
“The current change brought about in the law was complete eyewash. It enables big corporate houses to make donations. To make donations through bonds (without disclosing names) is no reform at all. The system continues as it is,” he said at a session on Tata Steel Kolkata Literary Meet here.
Currently, almost all of the funding is done through anonymous cash donations.
According to Varma, corruption in India, is not considered entirely wrong.
“It is like litmus paper. It is bad for the victim of corruption, while it is good for the beneficiary.
“There are institutional ways in which corruption flourishes. The single biggest reason of it is the nexus between unaccounted money and politics. Unless you break the nexus, you will continue to have scams in some form or other. Political parties need money…individuals are ambitious,” he said at the session “Is the Honesty Deficit India’s Biggest Challenge?”
Fellow panellist and veteran journalist N. Ram also said on political finance, it was easier today to be non-transparent and totally unaccountable when corporates made big donations to political parties.
“The electoral bond scheme is going to make it possible for corporate and high net worth individuals to make large donations to parties without disclosing the name of the party. Looking at the law, it is clear that the present government is far from wanting to reduce corruption in political finance. It is actually going to enable it under the pretext that big donors do not want their names to be revealed,” he said.