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March 5, 2024

Narendra Modi’s Alleged Manipulation of SBI Electoral Bond Scheme Amidst Lok Sabha Elections

In recent developments, Congress leaders have linked the State Bank of India’s handling of electoral bonds to the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, accusing the Narendra Modi-led government of exploiting the bank to obscure its purported dubious activities. Mallikarjun Kharge, the Congress chief, condemned the move, labeling the electoral bond scheme as opaque and undemocratic, and criticized the BJP government for utilizing the bank as a shield.

Responding to the State Bank of India’s plea for an extension from the Supreme Court to disclose electoral bond details, Kharge voiced suspicions of the government’s intentions. The SBI, India’s largest bank, sought an extension until June 30 to comply with the court’s order, originally set for March 6. Kharge accused the BJP of aiming to delay the disclosure until after the Lok Sabha elections, suggesting that this move was to their advantage.

Kharge asserted that the BJP stood as the primary beneficiary of the scheme, insinuating that the government may be concealing dubious transactions involving infrastructure contracts. He questioned the necessity of a four-month extension for data compilation, arguing that experts suggested a much shorter timeframe for the task.

The Congress party, consistent in its stance against the electoral bond scheme, reiterated its concerns over its impact on democratic principles. Kharge accused the Modi government of leveraging various institutions to serve the BJP’s interests, including the Reserve Bank of India, the Election Commission, and Parliament.

Congress MP Manish Tewari echoed Kharge’s sentiments, urging the Supreme Court not to overlook the alleged manipulation of electoral bonds by the State Bank of India. Tewari emphasized the importance of transparency, particularly ahead of the general elections, stressing the need for public awareness regarding political funding.

Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi criticized Narendra Modi for allegedly obstructing transparency in political donations. Gandhi questioned why the SBI was reluctant to disclose information mandated by the Supreme Court before the elections, reiterating the public’s right to access such crucial details.

In its defense, the SBI argued that maintaining anonymity for donors necessitated a time-consuming retrieval process, citing the separation of issuance and redemption data. However, last month, the Supreme Court declared the electoral bond scheme as violative of fundamental rights, including the right to information and freedom of speech.

The ongoing dispute underscores the broader debate surrounding electoral transparency and accountability, with allegations of government manipulation casting a shadow over the integrity of the electoral process. As the Lok Sabha elections approach, the spotlight remains on the contentious issue of electoral financing and the role of financial institutions in safeguarding democratic principles.

Rajan Shukla

Rajan Shukla

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