[Suryasnata Mohapatra, a student of KIIT School of Law, Bhubaneshwar, writes a legislative comment on campaign financing.]
Indian democracy is characterized by a Parliament with multifarious party politics. The political parties are the major players in the Indian polity. These political parties require money for their sustenance, rallies and participation in the elections. They derive these monies primarily from the donations from individuals, sympathizers, industrialists and even outlaws. The sources are anonymous or pseudonymous. These donations run into hundreds of crore and lack transparent funding mechanism. As a result, the donors have a wide influence over the policy making of the winning parties and the governments become puppet at the hands of a few. So, as an initiative to get certain degree of check and transparency in the political financing, the Union Government in its Budget speech of 2017-18 had declared to bring electoral bonds as a monetary instrument in electoral donations by amending the RBI Act 1934 and the Finance Act 2017. This is made with an intent to have cashless donations and systematized cash tracing. Such a policy change came as an addendum to the controversial “demonetization” implementation. This policy seems to be a great initiative to reform the electoral finances and funding and came as an adherence to the recommendations of Law Commission, Election Commission and the Hon’ble Supreme Court. But the said policy contains few discrepancies which are presumed to cater to the needs of certain targeted persons. Thus, in this paper, the researcher shall be discussing the salient features of the recent electoral bonds policy along with a multidimensional criticism. It would further try to ameliorate the said gaps by suggesting measures which can aid in bringing transparency and contribute in reducing the menace of black money in the electoral system. Further, the researcher shall be citing certain electoral finance reforms and laws in other countries which can be beneficial in our country’s electoral financing and diminish corrupt practices in the political parties.