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the Electoral Bond Conundrum: Government NOw Settle Bill with SBI

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By SK_INSIGHTMEDIA

Electoral Bond
the Electoral Bond Conundrum: Government NOw Settle Bill with SBI 4
The Electoral Bond Government is yet to settle its bill with the State Bank of India (SBI). Delve into the financial implications and political ramifications of this opaque scheme, and explore the need for transparency and accountability in political financing.

Introduction

In a recent revelation, the State Bank of India (SBI) has not yet submitted the bill for printing 8,350 electoral bonds of Rs 1 crore denomination. These bonds, rendered obsolete following the Supreme Court’s annulment of the scheme in February, have left the government in a predicament. Moreover, a payment of Rs 43.90 lakh to SBI for the 30th phase of electoral bond sales in January is looming. Let’s delve into the intricacies of this issue and its implications.

The Government’s Dilemma: Unsettled Bills and Impending Payments

The Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) revealed in response to an RTI application that the final bill for printing 8,350 Rs 1 crore bonds is still pending. This delay raises questions about financial accountability and highlights the complexities of managing electoral finances.

As per DEA’s statement, Rs 12.04 crore has been levied to the government as a commission to sell electoral bonds in 30 phases. However, only Rs 11.60 crore has been paid so far, leaving a balance of Rs 43.90 lakh for the 30th phase. This indicates a payment process discrepancy, which could strain the government’s financial resources.

The Saga of Electoral Bond Sales: From Hope to Disenchantment

The timeline of EB sales reflects a rollercoaster of events leading to disillusionment. The government printed 8,350 bonds worth Rs 1 crore each between December 29, 2023, and February 15, 2024, anticipating a favourable outcome from the Supreme Court. However, the SC’s verdict on February 15 dashed these hopes, citing transparency and freedom of speech violations.

Despite these setbacks, the government forged ahead with the sale of EB, printing 6.826 lakh bonds to date. The sheer volume of bonds underscores the magnitude of financial transactions facilitated through this controversial scheme.

Financial Implications and Political Ramifications

The financial implications of the EB saga extend beyond unsettled bills and pending payments. With political parties mobilizing a staggering Rs 16,518 crore in 30 phases since 2018, the scheme has emerged as a significant conduit for political funding.

Corporate entities and high-net-worth individuals dominate the donor landscape, contributing to around 94% of bonds with a face value of Rs 1 crore. This raises concerns about the influence of big money in shaping political agendas and undermines the principles of transparency and accountability in governance.

The Taxpayer’s Burden: An Opaque Scheme Unveiled

Amidst mounting criticism, RTI activist Commodore Lokesh K Batra (Retd) illuminates the inherent paradox of the electoral bond scheme. While donors enjoy anonymity and evade service charges, the government—and ultimately the taxpayers—bear the brunt of financial costs.

Batra underscores the need for transparency and accountability in political financing, emphasizing the role of electoral bonds in perpetuating opaque practices. Ostensibly designed to promote openness, the scheme has inadvertently fostered a culture of covert transactions and unchecked influence peddling.

Looking Ahead: Navigating the Nexus of Money and Politics

As the electoral bond saga unfolds, it’s imperative to reassess the nexus between money and politics. The SC’s intervention has reignited discussions on electoral reforms and campaign finance regulations, signalling a potential paradigm shift in India’s democratic landscape.

Stakeholders must prioritize transparency, accountability, and fairness in political financing. Reforms aimed at curbing the influence of big money and promoting grassroots participation are essential to safeguard the integrity of India’s electoral process.

Also read: RBI’S VISION FOR PAYMENT AGGREGATORS: IMPACTS AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR BUSINESSES”

Conclusion: Towards a Transparent and Inclusive Democracy

The government’s delay in settling bills with SBI for electoral bonds underscores the need for robust financial accountability mechanisms. As citizens, we must demand transparency and accountability from our elected representatives, ensuring that political financing serves the interests of the people rather than vested interests.

The electoral bond saga is a stark reminder of the challenges facing India’s democracy. By advocating for reforms and upholding democratic values, we can collectively strive toward a more transparent, inclusive, and equitable political system. Let’s seize this opportunity to redefine the contours of Indian democracy for generations to come.

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