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4 Feb 2017

Mamata sees bond 'scam'

TT, Calcutta, Feb. 3: Chief minister Mamata Banerjee today said the Centre was trying to jeopardise regional parties through the proposed electoral bonds, whose aim is to clean up the system of political funding.
The Trinamul Congress chief said she was in favour of the clean-up and had been advocating in favour of state funding of elections for years, but the bonds, mentioned by Union finance minister Arun Jaitley in his budget speech on Wednesday left room for ambiguity and the possibility of "a scam".
"There is uncertainty and lack of clarity on the electoral bonds. The provision could well lead to a scam. This could be an attempt to endanger the smaller, regional political parties," she said in her Assembly chamber this afternoon.
On Wednesday, Jaitley had announced the provision of the bonds, among other steps to cleanse the system of funding of political parties.
Investors in the Reserve Bank bonds will be required to provide personal details while purchasing them through cheques or digital transactions from designated banks, which can then be handed over to the preferred political party. The party can encash the bond for its electoral funding.
"The finer details of this have to be made clear and if there is any room for manipulation in favour of some and to the disadvantage of others, we will not get on board.... As it is, these decisions should have been vetted at all-party meetings before announcements were made," Mamata said.
"We are among a handful of parties that adhere to every rule on funding and we are audited thoroughly. All our details are on record. We are among those who follow rules, not everyone does," she added.
In the past, central agencies such as the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate have probed the source of Trinamul's income from heads such as donations and sale of paintings.
The flow of funds to Trinamul was a key aspect of the CBI's Saradha probe and the agency had examined the party's books of accounts and other financial details between 2010 and 2014.
Today, Mamata repeated her allegation that the arrests of Trinamul MPs Sudip Bandyopadhyay and Tapas Paul in connection with the CBI's Rose Valley probe was political vendetta by the BJP-led Centre.
"They will be able to prove nothing. It was all done for vindictive politics anyway, using the central agencies as instruments.... The focus should be on returning the money to depositors who have been duped," she said.

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