The six-part #PaisaPolitics series by Nitin Sethi, published last week by HuffPost India, revealed that the Narendra Modi government told a number of lies—to Parliament, Election Commission and the Indian public—in its hurry to push through the controversial electoral bonds scheme. More than Rs6,000 crore worth of these bonds have been sold so far, and we know that the BJP pocketed 95% of the Rs222 crore sold in the first tranche.
The series, based on documents accessed by transparency activist Commodore Lokesh Batra (Retd), revealed that not only did the government overrule the Reserve Bank of India’s serious objections to the scheme, it also misled Election Commission officials on key features of these bonds. The government’s oft-repeated claim that bond donors are completely anonymous was also a lie, as was its initial justification for the scheme—that donors asked for a secret funding channel due to fear of political retribution.
Perhaps most worryingly, the documents exposed how often the rules governing the scheme were bent with impunity, and according to political convenience—the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) asked the finance ministry to open an illegal sale window just ahead of the Karnataka state assembly election in May 2018. This so-called exception was later used as a precedent to open a similar window ahead of other critical assembly elections later that year.
#PaisaPolitics also found that SBI accepted expired bonds worth Rs10 crore that were sold in this same illegal window, after getting the finance ministry’s sign-off. This meant that soon after the Karnataka election resulted in a hung assembly, an unnamed political party, or parties, was allowed to redeem Rs10 crore against the rules.
Now, Sethi has uploaded the entire tranche of documents accessed by Batra under the RTI.
You can access them here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/n8dtbhw9c1sc2ax/AAA6xdFMlRQklUHNrTVjqQ1xa?dl=0