The government has widened the window for buying electoral bonds by 15 days in a year in which any assembly election may be scheduled, bringing an amendment to the electoral bond scheme, reported The Economic Times.
It also announced issuance and encashment of electoral bonds from November 9, 2022 to November 15, 2022 –– a month after the last such tranche, according to a finance ministry press statement.
The move has come days before the assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh while the Model Code of Conduct is in effect in these states.
The Centre did not take any fresh permission/ no objection from the Election Commission on opening this new funding during this model code period. The finance ministry is learnt to have taken a no-objection from the ECI in 2021 for this amendment amid assembly polls then.
However, it seems to have affected the scheme change now, ahead of this round of assembly polls. This will enable a fresh infusion of corporate funding ahead of Gujarat & HP polls.
The government has already printed 10,000 electoral bonds worth ₹1 crore each this calendar year and political parties have received near ₹545 crore in the latest round of bond purchase between October 1 and 10, show RTI replies to activists.
In a notification dated November 7, 2022, the Finance Ministry brought in the Electoral Bond (Amendment) Scheme, 2022, which says that ‘an additional period of fifteen days shall be specified by the Central Government in the year of general elections to the legislative assembly of states and Union territories with legislature’.
This takes the total number of days for purchase of electoral bonds from 70 to 85 in a year, thereby increasing the scope for raising political funds through the bond route.
The 2018 scheme allowed for the purchase of electoral bonds for a period of ten days each in the months of January, April, July and Oct. It, however, also allowed an additional period of 30 days for Lok Sabha elections.