DANCE OF DESTRUCTION!

By Rajan Narayan

GOA Forward is the only political party in the country which has fully disclosed the amount of election bonds that it has received. The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) which is the rolling party in Tamil Nadu brought over 80% of its funds from Santiago Martin, the owner of Future Gaming. The Supreme Court has accused both the State Bank of India (SBI) and the Election Commission (EC) of failure to disclose the nature of funding for electoral bonds.
The political parties which have been the beneficiaries are unanimous in refusing to disclose who had funded the electoral bonds. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). which ironically claims to be the custodian of democracy, refuses to reveal donors to protect their identity. The State Bank of India has refused to share the numbers of the bonds with the Election Commission of India. Without the numbers, it is impossible to check which donor gave how much to each party. Unless of course, the party reveals it.
Let us understand the nature of electoral bonds. The Modi government directed the SBI to issue electoral bonds. Electoral bonds are the parallel currency issued by not the Reserve Bank but by the State Bank of India. Like Rs1,000 notes these electoral bonds have a number. Unlike in the notes issued by the RBI the numbers put in a code can only be read with ultra-sound light. This makes it easy for companies to pay political parties.
Since SBI was not required to disclose the names of other companies which bought them there was no way of knowing who cashed the bonds. Unless the political parties are willing to share the information nobody will know how much corporates gave to political parties.

DISCLOSE ALL DETAILS!
IN the case of electoral bonds, 94% of the electoral bond funding remains a secret. The SC has warned both SBI and the Election Commission and ordered them to disclose all the details. The BJP which got Rs8,251 crore is refusing to reveal who gifted the electoral bonds. Contrary to the earlier statements Congress got the second highest amount of Rs1,952 crore. The major contributors to the BJP are Jindal Steels, Megha Construction and the Aditya Birla Group.
The third in the list of beneficiaries is the Trinamool Congress (TMC) with Rs1,708 crore and the Aam Adami Party (AAP) got about Rs69 crore. The major contributors to AAP are the Bajaj Group of companies, Torrent Pharma and Shirke Construction. Interestingly Chennai Super Kings was the major source of funds for the AIADMK. Chennai Super King is the IPL franchise holder for India Cement. Mahendra Singh Dhoni heads the Chennai Super Kings. India Cement has also contributed along with Sun Network with the funds of DMK of the total contribution Future Gaming gave Rs509 crore to DMK between 2019-2024.
Neither of the two major parties, the BJP or Congress, have revealed the sources of their funds which account for 2/3rds of the electoral bonds issued. The bulk of the Congress funds have come from Karnataka where it is in power; the Trinamool claims that it does not know who the owners were and found the bonds in its letterbox in its office in sealed envelopes. The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) which was led by Nitish Kumar, the former CM of Bihar got funds only when he was in power.
The Prudent Electoral Trust is not set up by Prudent media. It is set up by a group of chartered accountants in Mumbai. They have made a major contribution to RJD. They gave Goa Forward a token sum of Rs50 lakh. In any case, Aravind Bhatikar points out that the details of electoral bonds will not affect the BJP or any other party. It is scandalous that the Election Commission which is holding the election is not willing to reveal the names of 94% of those who benefited from the electoral bond.

NORTH-SOUTH DIVIDE
THE dance of destruction has started. The Election Commission has announced the schedule for the 2024 parliamentary election. The two Lok Sabha seats in Goa will go to the polls on May 7, 2024. The polling will be in seven phases from April to June 2024. The counting will start only on June 5.
We will see a new government only by the end of June. Elections have also been held in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Sikkim, Haryana and Orissa. Though Modi is on the warpath in the South, I doubt whether it will make any difference. The South-North divide is complete. It is like the US before the civil war. There was a struggle between the southern parts of the United States which favored the slave trade. Black slaves were traded by the European country including Portugal. There were many slaves brought to Goa by the Portuguese. Their descendent are called meztizo.
None of the guarantees of the Modi government will ensure a free and fair election. The Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar’s speech makes him sound like a Modi bhakt. The CEC has demonstrated his loyalty to Narendra Modi by defying the Supreme Court. One of the election commissioners appointed by Modi resigned just before the election. The EC cannot be relied upon to hold a free and fair election.
In any real democracy it is the voice of the people that matters. I don’t think there is anyone who believes in Modi’s guarantees. I don’t know any Goan family whose quality of life has improved because of Modi’s guarantees. If you want a job in Goa it is Babush’s guarantee and Vishwajit’s guarantee that are more important than Modi’s guarantee.
The gift of a rebate of Rs100 in LPG gas cylinders is not going to get women to vote for Modi. There is less and less farming in Goa. So farmers get very little benefit from Modi’s guarantees. There is no housing scheme for the homeless in Goa. The Narendra Modi health scheme has run into trouble because of unpaid bills.
On the eve of the elections, Modi inaugurated several projects. Including the Reis Magos ropeway project which is expected to be ready in 2030. None of the projects launched by Modi will be ready even before the next general election. Change is possible if the people revolt. Anybody can be defeated. This was proved when Indira Gandhi lost at the height of her popularity. After the Emergency, the people rejected Indira Gandhi.

SILENT VOTERS
WHEN the Janata government created a mess the people of Bharat voted Indira back to power. We hope that India’s silent voters will take on the communal BJP. We are afraid that like the US seems to favor Donald Trump, India might also elect Narendra Modi for the third term. There is no guarantee that Modi will not declare himself prime minister of Bharat for life. The voters — over 94.50 crore — can ensure the safety of our minorities in India.

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