Business Standard: Chandigadh: Sunday, April 30, 2017.
Former Union minister Manish Tewari on Saturday favoured linking of donations to political parties with Aadhaar in a bid to bring more transparency in political funding.
He also voiced that corporates should not be in the business of funding the political process.
"Any donation made to any political party needs to have an address. Therefore, you need to link every donation to Aadhaar, whether a person is donating Rs 1 in cash or Rs 5,00,000 in cash.
"As long as there is Aadhaar linkage whereby the source of funding can be traced, I do not think we really need to go down this entire root of decreasing individual donations from Rs 20,000 to Rs 2,000, which only means you need to print 10 times more coupons," Tewari said addressing the 13th annual national conference on electoral and political reforms organised by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR).
Commenting on the role of corporates in political funding, the Supreme Court advocate said, "Yes, corporates do not have Aadhaar cards. One possibility which is being explored for a long time is with regard to state funding of elections. It is an idea which is worth exploring, but how will one ensure that no private funding takes place."
"Corporates are in the business of earning profits for their shareholders. They should not be in the business of funding the political process," he said.
The Congress leader, however, emphasised that transparency in political funding could be achieved if political parties were brought within the ambit of the Right to Information Act (RTI).
The former Ludhiana MP also described the electoral bonds and restricting cash donations to political parties to Rs 2,000 as "non-starters".
"Electoral bonds are non-starters because RBI would know who the purchaser of the bond is, and then the government will be able to have information regarding where the bond has gone.
"The lowering of threshold from Rs 20,000 to Rs 2,000 is nothing at all. It means that the printer will earn more by printing more money. Both these things are complete non-starters," he said.
Notably, to cleanse the political funding system and check black money, the Central government had proposed to restrict cash donations to political parties from individuals to Rs 2,000, while also introducing an 'electoral bonds' scheme.
Addressing the gathering, Sanjay Kumar, Director of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), expressed displeasure over the removal of the cap on corporate funding to political parties.
"Earlier, corporate could donate up to 7.5 per cent of its average profit of last three years to political parties. Now, this cap has been removed and companies can contribute any amount of money. Unfortunately, now money can be returned to companies as expenditure. There can be a nexus between political parties and business houses," he alleged.