BJP govt made graft in polls easier: Bhushan

The BJP government at the Centre has made it easier for political parties to receive kickbacks, and for black money to fund political parties, said Supreme Court lawyer and activist Prashant Bhushan.

He was speaking at a discussion on Political corruption and dangers to democracy, organised by Swaraj Abhiyan and Jana Sangrama Parishat in the city on Sunday.

Bhushan said several amendments to law have made it easier for political parties to hide the source of their funding.

The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act was retrospectively amended in 2016 after the Delhi High Court ruled in 2014 against both the BJP and Indian National Congress for accepting donations from a foreign company, he said.

Now Indian entities owned by foreign companies can make donations to parties without violating the Act, so long as the foreign investment in the entity is less than 50% of the party fund.

Further, he said the electoral bonds which the BJP government had said would make electoral funding transparent, would actually achieve the opposite effect.

Since the bonds purchased from designated banks will not bear the name of the donor, no one would know where the money had come from, he said. Bhushan explained that if the government awards some contract to a foreign company, the kickback can be received in the form of electoral bonds through an Indian subsidiary.

He also said that there was “another big scam in the making” involving Mehul Choksi, billionaire jeweler and chief of Gitanjali Group.

Bhushan said that in return for a substantial loan from a private bank, Choksi had given a kickback to the spouse of the banks CEO, through a “shady company” owned by the spouse.

Democracy has never before been under more strain with anti-corruption institutions being weakened, Bhushan said.

Social activist S R Hiremath, who was at the event, criticised the Congress government in the state for systematically weakening the Lokayukta institution.

The BJP government at the Centre has made it easier for political parties to receive kickbacks, and for black money to fund political parties, said Supreme Court lawyer and activist Prashant Bhushan.

He was speaking at a discussion on ‘Political corruption and dangers to democracy,’ organised by Swaraj Abhiyan and Jana Sangrama Parishat in the city on Sunday.

Bhushan said several amendments to law have made it easier for political parties to hide the source of their funding.

The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act was retrospectively amended in 2016 after the Delhi High Court ruled in 2014 against both the BJP and Indian National Congress for accepting donations from a foreign company, he said.

Now Indian entities owned by foreign companies can make donations to parties without violating the Act, so long as the foreign investment in the entity is less than 50% of the party fund.

Further, he said the electoral bonds which the BJP government had said would make electoral funding transparent, would actually achieve the opposite effect.

Since the bonds purchased from designated banks will not bear the name of the donor, no one would know where the money had come from, he said. Bhushan explained that if the government awards some contract to a foreign company, the kickback can be received in the form of electoral bonds through an Indian subsidiary.

He also said that there was “another big scam in the making” involving Mehul Choksi, billionaire jeweler and chief of Gitanjali Group.

Bhushan said that in return for a substantial loan from a private bank, Choksi had given a kickback to the spouse of the bank’s CEO, through a “shady company” owned by the spouse.

Democracy has never before been under more strain with anti-corruption institutions being weakened, Bhushan said.

Social activist S R Hiremath, who was at the event, criticised the Congress government in the state for systematically weakening the Lokayukta institution.

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