Odisha

EC’s Rs 2,000 Cap Evokes Sharp Reactions From Ruling BJD’s Bete Noires

**Bhubaneswar:** A day after the Election Commission of India (ECI) urged the Central Government to ban anonymous contributions to political parties above Rs 2,000 to ensure they do not become conduits for black money, OMMCOM NEWS tried to collect reactions in Odisha on Monday.

Odisha BJP unit vice president Sameer Mohanty said, “We welcome it. The way the ruling party (BJD) is rampantly using black money during elections will be checked. With such a proposal by the Election Commissioner, the election reform process has begun. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is the only party whose accounting process from day one is extremely transparent. It is well known that it submits IT returns duly. The sole mantra of BJP is transparency and party internal discipline.”

Congress chief whip in Odisha Assembly Tara Prasad Bahinipati said, “It is a welcome step. For example, under the present political scenario, the corporate houses will definitely park their black money in BJP party funds at Centre and in BJD’s in Odisha. The contributions should be open.”

Talking to media on the other hand, BJD spokesperson Pratap Deb said, “We are yet to receive any formal letter in this regard from the Election Commission. After receiving the formal letter, our party can comment on it.”

Senior journalist Dilip Bisoi told OMMCOM NEWS, “There are five national parties and about 2000 registered and unregistered regional parties in India. Most of their donation amount is below Rs 20,000. Some parties use coupons for the purpose following which there is no clear cut names and addresses of the donors. Thus, a huge amount of black money is being pumped into the political parties. If the proposal of the ECI is enacted into a law in the Parliament, it will definitely keep a tab on the inflow of black money into the political parties. Election will be fair to some extent, but this effort will make the party funds transparent. Across India, the traders owning black money are parking their ill-gotten gains in the funds of the political parties. Even efforts are on today by some unscrupulous businessmen and capitalists to convert their black money into white money by floating their own small political parties. This is also happening in Odisha. It may be mines owners or real estate owners. They are floating small regional parties for the purpose.”

Need to be mentioned, as per the proposed amendment sent by the ECI to the Law Ministry, “anonymous contributions above or equal to the amount of Rs 2,000 should be prohibited”.

The ECI has also proposed that exemption of Income Tax (IT) should only be extended to political parties that contest elections and win seats in Lok Sabha and State polls. This is crucial because between 2005 and 2015, only 400 of the 1900 odd registered political parties have contested elections.

The existing law of The Representation of the People Act, 1951 does not bar the political parties from accepting anonymous donations while it makes it mandatory for them to divulge details of donations above Rs 20,000. Section 13A of the IT Act also exempts political parties from taxes on property, voluntary contributions, income from capital gains and other sources.

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