Times of India: Patna: Monday, February 6, 2017.
At a seminar on transparency, organised jointly by the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) and Bihar Election Watch (BEW) here on Sunday, all the political parties hailed the Modi government’s move of capping cash donations by an individual donor at Rs 2,000, but none conceded that they will henceforth accept all donations only in online mode.
Incidentally, ADR and BEW had released a report last week stating that JD (U) had received the maximum donation from unknown sources in Bihar between 2004-05 and 2014-15. Of JD (U)’s total income of Rs 54.12 crore, 71% came from unknown sources. Congress’s 42.92% income in Bihar came from unknown sources out of its total income of Rs 3,982.09 crore. The sources of 71% funding of all political parties in Bihar in the said period could not be traced, the report said.
Sunday’s session was a follow-up exercise after the release of report. At the beginning of the session, which was attended by representatives of all major parties, BEW coordinator Rajiv Kumar threw two questions to the panellists – whether they would accept only online donations, and if they would come under the ambit of Right to Information (RTI) Act. Not a single party representative addressed either of these questions in their speeches at all.
“We organise such seminars in Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. The response of political parties from all states is same,” said Rajiv.
BJP’s Devesh Kumar welcomed the Rs 2,000 cap move and said more needed to be done to rein in political parties. JD (U) spokesperson Nikhil Kumar said though it was a welcome move, many questions are still unanswered. “Political parties will now show more dummy donors. If a party can show 10 dummy donors, it can show 20 more,” he said.
Bablu Prakash of Aam Aadmi Party said they had put the records of all their donors and donations on their website, but it was removed later because the donors were being harassed by the I-T department. Danish Rizwan of HAM (S) assailed BSP chief Mayawati, saying that his kin had deposited more than Rs 100 crore in bank after notebandi.
A couple of political leaders threw the ball in voters’ court. “It is the people who vote for corrupt politicians and candidates with criminal antecedents,” Magadh Mahila College teacher and political activist Suheli Mehta said. JD (U)’s Prof Ghulam Daus added, “Voters are like factories. If their production is bad, there is no use blaming others.” However, a few other panellists rejected these theories, saying voters don’t have much choice.