Parties trying to escape scrutiny in foreign funding?
New Delhi: After the Lok Sabha, earlier this week, passed without a debate a bill that will exempt political parties from the scrutiny of funds they have received from abroad since 1976, non-Congress opposition parties are now trying to bring in the issue of election funding system of the country at the centre-stage.
Bringing up the issue on Tuesday, leaders of the Trinamool Congress staged a dharna in front of the Mahatma Gandhi statue of the Parliament against the amendment.
It may be mentioned that TMC Rajya Sabha leader Derek O'Brien, with the directive of party supremo Mamata Banerjee, has already initiated discussions with other friendly regional parties to bring up the issue.
Political observers opined that TMC's new initiative might embarrass the main opposition party, the Congress, which is one of the beneficiaries of the amendment other than the BJP.
On the other hand, the Lower House of Parliament, amid chaotic protest by the AIADMK and TRS members, passed 21 amendments to the Finance Bill, 2018, including amendment to the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 that bans overseas corporations from funding political parties.
The Representation of People's Act, which lays down the rules for elections, bars political parties from accepting foreign funds. The BJP government had through Finance Bill 2016 amended the FCRA to make it easier for parties to accept foreign funds. Now, the government has amended it further to do away with the scope for scrutiny of a political party's funding since 1976.
The retrospective amendment will help BJP and Congress escape the fallout of 2014 judgement of Delhi High Court that held both guilty of violating the Foreign Contribution Regulations Act.
The TMC, which is playing a crucial role in forging opposition unity, on Tuesday, expressed its opposition saying that such an amendment would endanger India's political agenda that it could be influenced by special interest groups, with no real checks and balances in the horizon.
A statement of TMC said the possibility of round-tripping of funds especially with the PNB and another bank scam by Nirav Modi and others will find legitimate sanction.
Later, TMC leaders also met Ghulam Nabi Azad to finalise the strategy for the Parliament session.