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Electoral bonds data exposes BJP's 'corrupt tactics': Congress

The Congress general secretary said the party continues to demand unique bond ID numbers, so that it can precisely match donors to recipients

Electoral bonds data exposes BJPs corrupt tactics: Congress
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Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh (PTI)

NEW DELHI: The Congress on Friday alleged that the electoral bonds data has exposed "corrupt tactics" of the BJP such as quid pro quo, seeking donations for the company's protection, kickbacks and money laundering through shell companies.

Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh also hit back at Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for her reported remarks that the link between the ED/CBI/IT raids on firms and donations through electoral bonds are based on "assumptions", saying "we invite her to release the full data of who donated how much to which political party".

"The Finance Minister says that the link between the ED/CBI/IT raids on firms and their subsequent donations to the BJP are based on 'assumptions'. If these 'assumptions' are untrue, then we invite her to release the full data of who donated how much to which political party. It will put an end to the discussion once and for all," Ramesh said.

"It must be remembered that the Finance Minister is in charge of both the State Bank of India, which administers the Electoral Bond scam, and the Enforcement Directorate, which enforces the 'Pradhan Mantri Hafta Vasuli Yojana'," Ramesh said in a post on X.

The Congress general secretary said the party continues to demand unique bond ID numbers, so that it can precisely match donors to recipients.

His remarks came a day after the Election Commission (EC) put up the data on electoral bonds on its website.

Ramesh also put out on X a "quick first analysis" of the Electoral Bonds (EB) data disclosure that the SBI put out after weeks of "attempting to postpone it until after the election".

"Over 1,300 companies and individuals have donated electoral bonds, including over 6,000 crore to the BJP since 2019," he said.

So far, the electoral bonds data exposes at least four corrupt tactics of the BJP, Ramesh claimed.

"Quid Pro Quo: There are many cases of companies that have donated electoral bonds, and immediately afterwards gotten huge benefits from the government: Megha Engineering & Infra has given over Rs. 800 crores in EBs. In April 2023, they donated Rs. 140 crore, and just one month later, they were awarded the Rs. 14,400 crore Thane-Borivali Twin Tunnel Project," he alleged.

Jindal Steel and Power gave Rs. 25 crore in EBs on 7 October 2022, and just three days later, they won the Gare Palma IV/6 coal mine, on 10th October 2022, Ramesh claimed.

"Hafta Vasooli: The BJP's Hafta Vasooli strategy is simple raid a target through the ED/CBI/IT, and then seek hafta ("donations") for the company's protection. At least 14 of the top 30 donors have been raided," he alleged.

Earlier this year an investigation found that after ED/CBI/IT raids, companies were forced to donate to the BJP via electoral trusts, Ramesh said.

Many of the same companies have donated through EBs, like Hetero Pharma and Yashoda Hospital, he pointed out.

"The IT department raided Shirdi Sai Electricals in December 2023, and in January 2024, they donated Rs. 40 crore through Electoral Bonds," the Congress leader claimed.

"Future Gaming & Hotels, has donated over Rs 1200 crore, making it the largest donor in the data so far. Here is the chronology: April 2 2022: ED raids Future, and 5 days later (7th April) they donate Rs. 100 crores in EBs," Ramesh claimed.

IT department raids Future in October 2023 and the same month they donate Rs. 65 crores in EBs, he said.

Ramesh also alleged that the data also points to kickbacks as a pattern emerges where immediately after receiving some handouts from the Central government, companies have repaid the favour through electoral bonds.

"Vedanta got the Radhikapur West private coal mine on 3rd March 2021, and then in April 2021, they donated Rs. 25 crore in Electoral Bonds," he alleged.

"Megha Engineering & Infra got the Rs. 4,500 crore Zojila tunnel project in August 2020, then donated Rs. 20 crore in Electoral Bonds in October 2020," Ramesh said.

He also claimed that Megha got the BKC bullet train station contract in December 2022, and donated Rs. 56 crore the same month.

Ramesh alleged that data also shows there has been money laundering through shell companies.

"One huge issue with the electoral bonds scheme is that it removed the restriction that only a small percentage of a company's profits could be donated, paving the way for shell companies to donate black money. There are many such suspicious cases, such as the Rs. 410 crore that has been donated by Qwik Supply Chain Limited, a company whose entire share capital is just Rs. 130 crores according to MoCA filings," he said.

The Congress leader said another major issue is missing data.

The data provided by the SBI only begins in April 2019, but SBI sold the first tranche of bonds in March 2018.

"A total of Rs. 2,500 crores in bonds are missing from this data. Where is the data of these missing bonds, from March 2018 to April 2019? For instance, in the very first tranche of bonds, the BJP bagged 95% of the funds. Who is the BJP trying to protect?" he said.

Ramesh also alleged that the data points to kickbacks as a pattern emerges where immediately after receiving some handouts from the Central government, companies have repaid the favour through electoral bonds.

Responding to a social media post thread on the electoral bonds disclosure, Ramesh said many cases of "direct corruption" are coming out. "Soon this Suit-Boot-Loot-Jhooth Sarkar will have nowhere to hide!" he said.

PTI
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