All You Need to Know about Electoral Bonds and their Role in the Indian Election

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Role of Electoral Bonds in Indian Elections

The Government of India introduced electoral bonds as a mechanism for individuals and corporations to donate money to political parties. These bonds are like promissory notes that can be bought from select banks and given to political parties of choice.

Purpose: The primary objective behind electoral bonds was to bring transparency to political funding by reducing the use of cash for donations. It aimed to curb the flow of black money into the electoral process and ensure that political funding is traceable and accountable.

Anonymity: One of the unique features of electoral bonds is the anonymity they provide to both donors and political parties. Unlike traditional forms of political donations where the donor’s identity is disclosed, electoral bonds allow individuals and corporations to donate without revealing their identities to the public or even the recipient’s political party.

Purchase and Redemption: Electoral bonds can be purchased from specified branches of authorized banks in India. These bonds are available in fixed denominations, ranging from Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 1 crore or more. The purchaser can then donate these bonds to the political party of their choice. The recipient political party can encash these bonds within a specified period.

Legal Framework: Electoral bonds were introduced through amendments to various legislations, including the Reserve Bank of India Act, Income Tax Act, Representation of the People Act, and Companies Act. The government argued that these amendments were necessary to ensure the legality and smooth functioning of the electoral bond scheme.

Criticism: Electoral bonds have faced criticism from various quarters. Critics argue that the anonymity provided by electoral bonds undermines transparency in political funding, as it allows for the potential misuse of funds without public accountability. They also raise concerns about the possibility of foreign entities influencing Indian elections through donations via electoral bonds.

Role of Electoral Bonds in Indian Elections

Electoral bonds have become a significant mechanism for political funding in Indian elections. Political parties rely on these bonds to finance the election campaigns and other activities. However, their impact on the electoral process and democratic principles remains a subject of debate and scrutiny.

Funding Source for Political Parties: Electoral bonds serve as a significant source of funding for political parties during elections. With traditional modes of political funding facing increased scrutiny and regulations, electoral bonds provide a legal and transparent mechanism for parties to raise funds. Parties use these funds to finance election campaigns, rallies, advertisements, and other activities aimed at garnering support from voters.

Anonymity and Discretion: The anonymity provided by electoral bonds allows donors to contribute to political parties without fear of reprisal or public scrutiny. This discretion is particularly attractive to corporations and individuals who may wish to support a particular political ideology or party but prefer to keep their involvement private. As a result, electoral bonds have become a preferred choice for many donors seeking to maintain confidentiality in their political contributions.

Leveling the Playing Field: Electoral bonds are available to all registered political parties in India, regardless of their size or electoral strength. This equal access to funding helps level the playing field, allowing smaller parties to compete more effectively with established political entities. By providing a standardized platform for fundraising, electoral bonds contribute to a more equitable electoral landscape where parties can vie for public support based on their ideologies and policies rather than their financial resources.

Reducing Cash Transactions: One of the primary objectives of introducing electoral bonds was to reduce the reliance on cash transactions in political funding. Cash donations are often untraceable and can facilitate the inflow of black money into the electoral process. Electoral bonds, by contrast, require transactions through banking channels, thereby promoting transparency and accountability in political finance. By discouraging cash transactions, electoral bonds help mitigate the influence of illicit funds on elections and promote cleaner governance.

Controversies and Criticisms: Despite their intended role in promoting transparency, electoral bonds have been subject to criticism and controversies. Critics argue that the anonymity afforded by electoral bonds undermines transparency in political funding, as it prevents the public from knowing the identity of donors. This opacity, they argue, could lead to potential quid pro quo arrangements between donors and political parties, compromising the integrity of the electoral process. Additionally, concerns have been raised about the possibility of foreign entities using electoral bonds to influence Indian elections, as there are no restrictions on the nationality of bond purchasers.

Legal and Regulatory Framework: Electoral bonds necessitated amendments to various laws and regulations governing political funding in India. These included changes to the Reserve Bank of India Act, Income Tax Act, Representation of the People Act, and Companies Act, among others. The legal framework surrounding electoral bonds aims to ensure the legality and accountability of the scheme while addressing concerns related to transparency and financial integrity.

In summary, electoral bonds play a significant role in financing political parties during Indian elections. While they offer advantages such as anonymity, transparency, and equal access to funding, they also face criticisms regarding their potential to undermine transparency and facilitate undue influence. As Indian democracy evolves, the role of electoral bonds in shaping the electoral landscape and promoting democratic principles continues to be a subject of debate and scrutiny.

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Nirmalya Ghosh
Nirmalya has done his post graduate in business administration and now working as digital marketing executive in a US based firm. He loves to share the trending news and incidents with his readers. Follow him in Facebook or Twitter.