Justice Katju on electoral bonds

Amalendu Upadhyaya
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Much ado about nothing

Justice Katju on electoral bonds

By Justice Markandey Katju

I can't understand what is all this fuss regarding electoral bonds about ? In my opinion it is much ado about nothing.

The Congress alleges that most of the money went to the BJP.

But does it lie in its mouth to say that ?

When Congress was in power ( which was for several decades after Independence ) most donations by companies like Birlas and Tatas went to it. Now that the BJP is in power it is only natural that most contributions by businessmen to political parties will go to it.

Of course a small amount was, and still is, also paid to opposition parties just in case they come to power in the future, or to regional parties. Businessmen like to place their eggs in several baskets.

But what is all the hue and cry about ?

The Indian Supreme Court quashed the Electoral Bonds Scheme as being violative of the people's right to know which was held part of Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution, as the Scheme permitted donations by anonymous donors to anonymous donees. This, according to the Court, undermined democracy in India.

What Their Lordships seem to have forgotten is that in India democracy works largely on the basis of caste and communal vote banks. When most voters ( probably 80-90% ) go to vote they only see the caste or religion of the candidate ( or the caste or religion which the candidate's party claims to represent ), and they care two hoots who has donated, to which party, or how much, or for what reason.
Their Lordships say that people have the right to know about donations to political parties. But most Indians don't want to know that. They only want to know the caste or community of the candidate, or which the candidate's party claims to represent.

Hence the judgment would have been a realistic one in USA, UK or some other Western  democracy. So the hue and cry is much ado about nothing.  

(Justice Katju is a former Judge, of the Supreme Court of India, and former Chairman, the Press Council of India. The views expressed are his own)

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