NEW DELHI: The Congress on Monday alleged that the Modi government had overruled the RBI to introduce electoral bonds to enable "black money to enter the BJP coffers" and demanded that the scheme be scrapped immediately.
Describing it as "opaque" and promoting "money laundering", the party also demanded that the names of those who bought these bonds be made public and asked what the "quid pro quo" was.
Attacking the government over the issue, former Congress president Rahul Gandhi said, "In 'New' India, bribes and illegal commissions are called electoral bonds."
Citing media reports and RTI responses, the opposition party alleged that the government asked the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for its opinion just days before unveiling electoral bonds, but dismissed the central bank's reservations and objections.
Congress spokesperson and MP Rajeev Gowda alleged that the government seeking the RBI's nod just ahead of the unveiling shows it was done in a "perfunctory" manner and the central bank's reservations were dismissed in haste.
Party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra also attacked the government on the issue, alleging that electoral bonds were "cleared by bypassing RBI" and "dismissing" national security concerns in order to enable black money to enter the BJP coffers.
"It appears that while the BJP was elected on the promise of eradicating black money it was the busy lining. Its own pockets with exactly that! What a shameful betrayal of the Indian people," she said on Twitter.
Addressing a press conference, Gowda termed the electoral bond scheme "fraudulent" and claimed that it eliminates a level-playing field.
"It is a fraud on the people of India. It is a fraud on the electoral process. It eliminates the level playing field that needs to be there in a true democracy. It brings in opacity and this opacity was objected to by the Election Commission of India," the Congress MP said.
He alleged that the government brought the scheme as a money bill so that changes cannot be made in it in the Rajya Sabha.
"The Congress has opposed the electoral bond scheme because it lacks transparency, it lacks fairness. We demand that the BJP government, if it has nothing to hide, must reveal the entities who have bought the bonds and to what extent," Gowda said.
"We demand that the BJP government explain to the people of India what policy favours, including the selling of public assets to crony capitalists, have taken place as a result of electoral bond transactions," he said.
The Congress also demands the immediate scrapping of the electoral bond scheme which even the RBI and the EC have questioned because it is opaque and is a "money laundering scheme", Gowda added.
"We demand an inquiry into how the Finance Ministry took decisions to overrule the RBI to establish this corruption-inducing scheme and we urge the government to come clean," he said.
Gowda alleged that electoral bonds worth at least Rs 6,000 crore have been sold since March 2018 and the BJP has garnered more than 95 per cent of the money.
On the receipt of electoral bonds by the Congress, Gowda said, "We have not asked for (it). Our party has received electoral bonds of about Rs 500 crore out of a total of Rs 6,000 crore most of which has gone to the BJP."
Asked if the Congress is going to raise this issue in the ongoing Parliament session, Gowda answered in the affirmative.
"Obviously, this is the issue that has just come and more is expected to come up in the next few days," he added.
Earlier, Congress' chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala also cited a media report to allege that the government "overruled" the RBI on the issue of introducing electoral bonds.
"RTI reveals how 'electoral bonds' became instruments of anonymous donations bordering on opaque 'money laundering'," Surjewala said in a tweet.
"Will the Modi govt answer -- 1. How many thousand crores of bonds issued? 2. How many thousand crores received by BJP? 3. The 'Quid Pro Quo'?" he asked.