The very idea of electoral bonds being issued by the PSU Bank SBI appears to be antithetical to transparency and probity of election funding. It appears to be yet another mode of money laundering and legitimised by the government of the day because political parties are using shell companies to route money for buying these Bonds. We talk of the anonymity of these bonds and know these bonds as instruments of donation to political parties without any questions asked as to the source of funds. How does it lend democratic legitimacy to these bonds? Does it not encourage black money generation and use of the same tainted money for political parties in power or expecting to come to power? And the aspect of quid pro quo automatically attaches to political party funding through such an opaque process.
Elections in our country are becoming increasingly money-intensive operations for political parties fielding candidates across states or the country. And this is what should not happen. Why so much extravaganza in electoral canvassing and campaigning? If the electorate needs to be educated on the performance and credentials of contesting candidates, it can be done through state-controlled media to a limited extent. Private media channel use, organisation of huge cash guzzling rallies and gifting of cash or other articles to poor electorate should be legally and constitutionally banned through electoral reforms. We have seen in the past that putting limits on electoral spending has badly flopped and has failed to curb excessive election expenditure.
Election campaigning should not become mega festivity activities costing huge time, money and energy of political parties or their agents. The Indian electorate is politically literate and mature. It is alive to running political phenomena and processes. Excessive election spending is the progenitor of political corruption. We have seen it happening through decades. Transparency is an important ingredient of democracy and we definitely need to observe it in electoral funding. Otherwise, we are diluting our democracy, on which we so eloquently pride.
Here, it would be prudent and contextual to state that the kind of democracy we practice in India is away from the purist form of democracy delineated in our primordial scripture Manusmriti which prescribes rules for political processes. It talks of two very important things— party less democratic polity and right to recall the elected representatives. Our democracy lacks these vital ingredients and needs to incorporate them to become vibrant and effective. Doing this will eliminate many evils of the current system including electoral and political corruption.