Scrapping Electoral Bonds Scheme Will Increase Role Of Black Money: Ex-Union Minister Ashwani Kumar

At a discussion on his book, 'A Democracy in Retreat: Revisiting the Ends of Power', Kumar also said democracy is on the decline in India, and it will be rescued not by its institutions, but by the people themselves.

Former law minister Ashwani Kumar

The scrapping of the electoral bonds scheme on the eve of the general elections will increase the role of black money, former law minister Ashwani Kumar said on Thursday.

At a discussion on his book, 'A Democracy in Retreat: Revisiting the Ends of Power', Kumar also said democracy is on the decline in India, and it will be rescued not by its institutions, but by the people themselves.

Commenting on the recently scrapped electoral bonds scheme, he said while it has been talked about, mostly appreciated, the effects of the judgment have not been pondered upon.

"It has been much talked of, mostly appreciated, but has anybody really pondered to think what the effect of the judgment is? You may anchor a judgment in some constitutional principles and write a theory around it, but the purpose of judicial adjudication is to achieve a purpose," Kumar said.

He said the constitutional purpose of the scheme was to secure transparency in the funding of elections.

"As a consequence of this otherwise sound judgment, we have gone back to the cash and carry aspect of politics. There is no transparency whatsoever now," the former Union minister said.

"...the consequence of the Supreme Court judgment on the eve of the general election is that the role of the black money has only increased, and the ruling dispensations, whoever is the ruling dispensation at the Centre or the state, would stand to gain. Nobody has pondered about it," he said.

Asked what may be the way out, he said, "I don't pretend that I have a full proof answer to that."

Kumar said different recommendations have been given by different commissions from time to time.

"The difficulty is that there is no political consensus because for some reason or the other, there is an absence of political consensus on the way forward," he said.

The former Congress leader mentioned that fighting a Lok Sabha election costs Rs 15-20 crore, and the expenditure is more than that in states like Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.

"Everyone here knows, who has any idea of politics, and in Tamil Nadu and in Andhra Pradesh it's much more, but you cannot fight a Lok Sabha election for less than 15-20 crore rupees today," he said.

"Now, the lawmakers perjure themselves on day one by filing that false adjudication," he said.

Kumar mentioned the state funding of polls as one of the suggestions.

Former ambassador Pawan verma meanwhile mentioned the method used by US senator Bernie Sanders.

"One answer is there, and it has been tried out. And that's called the Bernie Sanders model. He did not take money from corporate houses or from business... He raised money through digital funding where the donor and the amount and the party, in this case Bernie Sanders campaign, is on a public website," he said.

"In this process, Bernie Sanders raised $250 million... The real point is that nobody wants to pay the electoral reform for that," he said.

Talking about the Indian democracy, Kumar, while stating that there is a decline, said democracy will be rescued by the people and not by institutions.

All the principles of the Constitution are under severe attack. And, ultimately, this attack can be checked when people as a whole will assert themselves correctly, Kumar said.

"So, I feel, and I'm sensible in the belief, that democracy in this country will be rescued. It is a faulting democracy. It is a democracy in decline.

But it will be rescued, but not by the institutions of democracy. It will be rescued by the people themselves, from whom all democratic institutions derive power, he said.

Kumar said by all means, the role of the democratic institutions is key to strengthening the democratic temper and culture of this country. But the ultimate responsibility is not with the democratic institutions, he added.

"They are also manned by people who are reflective of the faults and inadequacies of ordinary models like us. They do not come from somewhere in the heaven. They are as much susceptible to considerations of the moment," he said.

"And, therefore, to rest the entire case of democracy in the safe custody of the institutions, I think is expecting too much of them," Kumar added.