The Opposition Congress on Thursday protested in the Lok Sabha against issuance of electoral bonds and privatisation of public sector units, including Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited, PTI reported. The Congress alleged that these moves were “scams”.
Congress MP Manish Tewari said that through the issuance of electoral bonds, the government had made corruption “official”. “The electoral bond scheme was limited to elections,” Tewari said. “RTI in 2018 revealed that government overruled Reserve Bank of India on electoral bonds.” He said that electoral bonds were a matter of public importance.
A report in HuffPost India on Monday had revealed that the Centre had ignored the Reserve Bank of India’s suggestion to not launch electoral bonds, which allow political parties to receive funds anonymously. Consequently, the Congress had claimed that electoral bonds had become instruments of anonymous political funding “bordering on opaque money laundering”.
Electoral bonds are monetary instruments that citizens or corporate groups can buy from the State Bank of India and give to a political party, which is then free to redeem them for money. These bonds are anonymous. The scheme was notified in January 2018.
Privatisation of public sector units
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had told The Times of India in an interview published on Sunday that debt-ridden Air India and Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd were expected to be sold by March 2020. “We are moving on both with the expectation that we can complete them this year. The ground realities will play out,” Sitharaman was quoted as saying
Earlier on Thursday, Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury told Speaker Om Prakash Birla: “This is a big scam. The country is being looted. Please allow us to speak.” Congress MPs proceeded into the Well of the Lok Sabha, sloganeering. However, they returned to their seats after Birla assured them that they will be allowed to raise these matters during Zero Hour. Birla also said the MPs should not lower the dignity of the House.
“This is wrong. The House is discussing a very important issue on sports persons,” Birla said. “It is the responsibility of every member to maintain decorum and dignity of the House.” The Speaker added that while he was a new member of the Lok Sabha, many of the Congress legislators were senior members.
The Opposition had protested against the privatisation of public sector units and against electoral bonds in the Rajya Sabha too on Thursday, calling the bonds a “political bribery scheme”.