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Govt Announces New Round Of Electoral Bonds Just In Time For Delhi Elections

Reports show the BJP raised Rs2,410 crore ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, of which 60% was through electoral bonds.

Read the six-part #PaisaPolitics series by Nitin Sethi, published by Huffpost India, here — Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5 and Part 6.

The finance ministry said on Thursday that sale of the 13th tranche of electoral bonds will take place from January 13 to January 22, just days after the Election Commission announced the dates for Delhi elections.

“State Bank of India (SBI), in the XIII phase of sale, has been authorised to issue and encash electoral bonds through its 29 authorised branches from January 13, 2020, to January 22, 2020,” the ministry said in a statement.

Delhi will go to polls on February 8 and results will be announced on February 11.

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HuffPost India’s series on electoral bonds by Nitin Sethi, published in November last year, revealed how Narendra Modi’s PMO directed the finance ministry to break its own rules to approve an unscheduled and illegal sale of electoral bonds for state assembly elections on two separate occasions. These elections — Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Rajasthan and Telangana — were the last round of polls before the Modi government’s first tenure ended.

In the first ever sale and donation of bonds in March 2018, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had garnered 95% of all political donations made through this particular funding channel, the party’s annual report showed. On Friday, The Economic Times and others reported that the BJP raised Rs2,410 crore ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, of which 60% was through electoral bonds.

Sethi’s series, which was based on documents accessed by transparency activist Commodore Lokesh Batra (Retd), also detailed how the Narendra Modi government overruled the objections of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the Election Commission. It also revealed the government’s claim that bond donors are completely anonymous was a lie. SBI maintains a secret number-based record of donors who buy electoral bonds, and the political parties they donate to.

The HuffPost India series also established that the government lied that donors requested anonymity due to fear of political retribution. While BJP members have often said that donors asked for anonymity, the finance ministry admitted that no donor ever told the government to create an opaque system of funding political parties.

This week, the Central Information Commission (CIC) asked the government to reveal the names of those who requested that donors who bought electoral bonds remain anonymous. The CIC also issued showcause notices to the department of economic affairs, financial services, revenue and the Election Commission regarding an RTI application filed by activist Venkatesh Nayak.

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This article exists as part of the online archive for HuffPost India, which closed in 2020. Some features are no longer enabled. If you have questions or concerns about this article, please contact indiasupport@huffpost.com.