We respect SC judgement, but electoral bonds were brought in for transparency, says BJP

Amid concerns about the scheme denying a level playing field, BJP says that people decide “who are in the field and who are out of it”; says scheme was meant to stop black money entering poll process

February 15, 2024 05:54 pm | Updated 06:43 pm IST - New Delhi

BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad addresses a press conference at the BJP headquarters in New Delhi on February 15, 2024.

BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad addresses a press conference at the BJP headquarters in New Delhi on February 15, 2024. | Photo Credit: X/@BJP4India

The BJP said that it “respects” the verdict of a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court terming electoral bonds as unconstitutional, but insisted that the scheme had a “laudable objective of bringing transparency in poll funding”.

BJP leader and former Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad articulated the party’s response to the judgement at a press conference held at its national headquarters on February 15.

Supreme Court verdict on electoral bonds | Follow for LIVE updates, political reactions on February 15, 2024

Noting that the judgment runs into hundreds of pages, Mr. Prasad said that it would require a comprehensive study before a structured reply is given by the BJP. However, he added that “the government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made efforts to reform election funding and the introduction of electoral bonds was a part of such measures”.

‘The people get final say’

Taking a swipe at the Congress, which had alleged that the bonds could also work as a bribe to the ruling BJP from corporate groups, he said that parties whose “DNA is based on corruption and bribery” should not level such charges.

EXPLAINED | Why did the Supreme Court strike down the electoral bonds scheme?

Amid claims that electoral bonds denied Opposition parties a level-playing field in elections, Mr. Prasad said that it was for the people to decide “who are in the field and who are out of it.”

“The people have thrown some parties out of the field and they could not now win even one seat in regions which used to be their strongholds,” he said.

‘Effort to stop black money’

BJP spokesperson Nalin Kohli also accused Opposition parties of politicising the issue. “We practise in courts and on a daily basis, cases are won and lost. Any order of the Supreme Court or its judgment has to be accepted and respected, but those political parties who are trying to politicise it are doing it primarily on the grounds that they have no answer or alternative to Modi ji’s leadership and the positive work done by his government where crores of people have benefitted,” he charged.

Mr. Kohli said that the government had introduced the electoral bond scheme to address the issue of black money in elections. “The largest perspective is that this has been a journey for several decades and a concern has been how to prevent black money or slush money getting into the electoral process,” he said. “Keeping concerns regarding the identities of the contributors in the mind, [an electoral bond] scheme came. The Supreme Court has held that this scheme in this format could not have been there. Therefore, it passed a set of directions,” he said.

In its judgement, the court said that the government’s electoral bond scheme violated the constitutional right to freedom of speech and expression, as well as the right to information.

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