The game is bonds, electoral bonds

Updated: Nov 23, 2019, 08:39 IST | Hemal Ashar | Mumbai

Cong party professionals court arrest as they protest BJP corruption; believe it is time to move from cyber battles to street movements

Congress professionals protesting in front of the BJP headquarters are bundled into a police van. Pic/ Suresh Karkera
Congress professionals protesting in front of the BJP headquarters are bundled into a police van. Pic/ Suresh Karkera

The professional wing of the Congress party, forming the core of a movement, protested on Friday outside the BJP headquarters at Churchgate against what they claimed was corruption by the saffron party through electoral bonds. With less than 10 members, the All India Professionals Congress (AIPC) courted arrest with their demonstration.

Bonds explained

An electoral bond (issued in multiple values of R1,000, R10,000 and so on) is like a promissory note that any individual or company incorporated in India can buy from select branches of the SBI. The buyer can donate the bonds, purchased digitally or through cheque, to any political party.

The bonds doesn't carry donor's name, and neither the donors nor the political parties are obliged to reveal its source. The bonds introduced last year aimed at ending 'under-the-table' funding.

Mathew Antony, AIPC state secretary leading the protest, said, "Electoral bonds are only one aspect of the corruption-ridden BJP. Mr. Modi is not a clean man.

Corporate extortion is institutionalised through these bonds." "Foreign funding is also allowed through these bonds. Where is this funding coming from? Shell companies?" three others asked.

Ashwini Agrawal president of Nagpur chapter of the AIPC, Kumud Shankar, Mario Da Penha and Antony said, "Former RBI governor Urjit Patel had also expressed reservations on certain aspects of electoral bonds."

Fund sources

When asked if they would have raised the issue had Congress received huge funding through electoral bonds, they said, "No party is a saint. Yet, all over the world, people are calling for greater transparency in poll funding, and so should we."

Agrawal claimed that "only BJP received massive funds, not other parties because donors are being targeted for funding others." When asked how, they said, "Through ED and CBI raids".

Citing further examples of BJP targeting its opponents, they said, "The raids by the Income Tax on BMC contractors came only after Shiv Sena announced its decision to join hands with Congress-NCP. Why did the raids not happen when Sena was a BJP ally?"

Since the area around the BJP HQ is under Section 144, the Congress professionals knew they were courting arrest. Antony said, "We told all those wanting to join us that they would be arrested." Mario Da Penha stressed on the need to "stop being Twitter warriors, and take to the streets to raise our voice. That is Sonia Gandhi's diktat too."

Bundled off

Speaking of the funding when the Congress was leading the struggle for freedom, the protesters said, "Most of the funds came from the masses. We need to go back to the mass support movement."

And they soon unveiled 'chowkidar chor hai' banners and crossed the road to directly face the BJP office. "This is the beginning of fearlessness," they said, even as a police van rolled up and bundled them into the vehicle.

They continued shouting slogans, like 'galli galli mein shor hain, chowkidar chor hain', even as they were being driven to the Marine Lines police station. They were let off after a while.

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