The electoral linkage mechanism is a substantial improvement in transparency over the current system and the government is open to suggestions to further clean up political funding, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said today.
In a Facebook post, Jaitley said that the conventional practice of funding the political system was to take donations and spend cash.
Sources are anonymous or pseudonymous. The amount of money has never been disclosed and the system ensures dirty money coming from unidentifiable sources.
“It is a completely non-transparent system. Most political groups seem quite satisfied with the current arrangement and do not care for this status quo to continue.
“The effort, therefore, is to remove any alternative system that is designed to clean up the political funding mechanism,” Jaitley said.
The finance minister had announced last week the outlines of the electoral bonds, which will be sold by the country’s last lender SBI and will have a term of only 15 days.
The vouchers were presented as an alternative to cash donations made to political parties.
Jaitley said the choice must now be made “consciously” between the existing system of substantial cash donations involving dirty money and other transparent options such as cheques, online transactions or electoral linkages.
“While all three methods involve clean money, the first two are totally transparent and the electoral linkage scheme is a substantial improvement in transparency over the current system of no transparency,” he said.
“The government is willing to consider all suggestions to further strengthen the purification of political funding in India. It must be considered that the unimplemented suggestions will not improve the system denominated in cash. They will only consolidate it,” wrote Jaitley.
He said that India, despite being the largest democracy in the world, has not been able to evolve a transparent political funding system in the last seven decades.
“The whole year’s operation of the political parties involves a huge expenditure… These expenses correspond to hundreds of crores. Yet there has been no transparent financing mechanism of the political system,” he said.