oppn parties Political Parties, Black Money and Demonetization

News Snippets

  • In reply to a question in Parliament, the government says it is empowered to lawfully intercept, monitor or decrpyt information stored in a computer resource in the interest of sovereignty or integrity of India
  • Police stop a 12-year old girl on her way to the Sabarimala shrine
  • In Karnataka, the JD(S) indicates that it might support the BJP government if it falls short of numbers after the bypolls
  • Congress pips the BJP in local body elections in Rajasthan, winning 961 wards to the BJPs 737
  • After Airtel and Vodafone-Idea, Jio also indicates that tariffs will be raised from December
  • Sources in Shiv Sena say that they might revive the alliance with the BJP if it offers the 50:50 deal
  • A miffed Sanjay Rout of the Shiv Sena says that it will take "100 births" to understand Sharad Pawar
  • Mobile operators Vodafone-Idea and Airtel decide to raise tariffs from next month
  • Sharad Pawar meets Sonia Gandhi and says more time needed for government formation in Maharashtra
  • Justice S A Bobde sworn in as the 47th Chief Justice of India
  • Supreme Court holds hotels liable for theft of vehicle from their parking area if parked by valet, says "owner's risk" clause is not a shield from such liability
  • Finance Minister says she is receiving feedback from many sectors that recovery is happening as there is lower stress
  • Sabarimala temple opens, but police bar the entry of women below 50 years
  • Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman says Air India and BPCL to be sold off by March
  • Media person Rajat Sharma resigns as DDCA president
Two Muslim litigants in Ayodhya refuse to accept the Supreme Court order, say review petition might be filed
oppn parties
Political Parties, Black Money and Demonetization

By Sunil Garodia

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.
Several messages are circulating on Whatsapp that are very telling. One of them says “till now, politicians used to appeal to the people to maintain peace whenever there was some uprising, but since demonetization, some politicians are using all their might to instigate people to rise against it and the common people are asking them to exercise restraint.”

How true this is! Despite the hardships the people are facing, there has been no public outcry against demonetization. Apart from small tiffs at bank counters or ATMs, resulting in temporary blockades of nearby roads, citizens have by and large accepted that the move is well intentioned and they are bearing the hardships with a resolve not seen in peaceful times in India. Despite some politicians and a section of the anti-Modi media trying their best to discredit the move, people have not come out on the streets. Since their first tactic has failed, the politicians are now resorting to the tried and tested ruse of bringing out “designer” protest rallies, full of herded party workers, to ‘show’ that the 'public' is against the move. The Communists have also called a Bharat bandh on Monday 28th of November, as if they have any support to show outside of Kerala and Tripura. They did not even think that their fear-induced bandh might make the nation lose more than the conversion cost of the new currency.

The shock and awe that the smaller parties faced once demonetization was announced is not surprising. The Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) informs us that more than 75 percent of the income of national parties is from unknown sources. Congress (82.5 of income from unknown sources), BJP (73), CPM (53.8) BSP (62) and NCP (91.5) lead the pack. The next logical step for the government to take is to make it mandatory for political parties to accept any funding above Rs 1000 by banking channels with the full name and address of the person making the donation. If the amount exceeds Rs 10000, quoting the PAN must also be mandatory. Unless political funding is made transparent, how does one root out corruption and black money? For, parties who get funding from “unknown” sources are just pumping back corruption or extortion money through this channel. If people are willing to donate to them freely and out of their own will, they will be more than happy to give the same through banking channels.

Those political parties that resist this move will immediately become suspect in public eyes. Why hide the source of their income? They are running political parties and not mafia operations. Money laundering by political parties must be stopped. It is not uncommon to see party cadre extort money from auto unions, taxi unions or the like in the name of union activities. There are hundreds of other ways how payments to party leaders from syndicates and other illegal operations are pumped back into the party funds. If these funds were held in cash in old currency notes, it explains the huge “ghost” queues at banks for changing notes and the spurt in deposits in Jan Dhan accounts. It was just the party faithful exploring all means to please their leaders and save party funds.

Unless Modi takes the next bold step of election funding reforms, demonetization will not work fully. His thinking of introducing state funding of elections is flawed and will be a huge burden on the exchequer. Instead, limits for spending on elections should be upwardly revised to bring it close to the spending actually done and accepting funds above Rs 1000 through banking channels must be made mandatory. Politicians must not be given the luxury of accepting huge amounts in cash and then put them in the bank account saying that an X number of party supporters had donated the same in small amounts. Bring political parties and politicians in line, the rest will follow.