Prime Minister Narendra Modi may have declared recently that people have a right to know where BJP’s funds are coming from, with media reports indicating that the Government of India may be working on a legislation to make the source of funding of all political parties “more transparent.”
However, well-known right to information (RTI) activist Venkatesh Nayak, who is with the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, has suggested, on the basis of a right to information (RTI) application he has filed, that the BJP’s office bearers appear to be in mood to comply with what seemed to be the Prime Minister’s intention.
In an email alert, Nayak says, on November 14, 2016, six days after Modi declared demonetization, he sent an RTI application to the Central Public Information Officer of the BJP through Ram Madhav, general secretary, BJP, attaching news clippings in which the BJP's Bengal unit had claimed that all its donations were properly receipted and available for verification.
The party had had sought to distance itself from media reports and Opposition accusations that the Bengal BJP had prior knowledge of the demonetization decision, one reason why it deposited Rs 3 crore in its bank account in Kolkata ahead of the Modi announcement on November 8.
Nayak made three demands in his RTI plea:
"1. A clear photocopy of all receipts issued by your party against cash donations received form any member of the public or any institution or organisation from 01 January, 2016 till date;
"2. A clear photocopy of the counterfoils of all bank deposit slips maintained by your party as evidence of cash deposited in your designated bank accounts, across the country from 01 January, 2016 till date; and
"3. A clear photocopy of all correspondence made by your party with any authority in the Government of India, relating to the issue of demonetisation of high value currency notes that was done on 08/09 November, 2016."
Nayak argues, he made the RTI plea in “pursuant to the order of the Central Information Commission in the matter of Subhash Chandra Aggarwal and Anr. vs Bharatiya Janata Party & Ors., dated June 3, 2013”, holding BJP as a “public authority under the RTI Act”.
Underling that till date he has not received any reply from the BJP, Nayak says, this happened despite the fact that the party’s national executive, where Modi wanted the party to declare its sources of funds, even came up with an economic resolution adopted, endorsing the PM's appeal for transparency in political party funding, particularly election campaign financing.
Apart from seeking details of the donations received and deposited, Nayak says, he had had also wanted to know “whether the BJP had made any formal representation to the Government of India (GoI) prior to or after the demonetization decision was announced on the subject.”
He did this, because he thought, “as the largest national party in the Lok Sabha, the BJP would have formally conveyed some views to the GoI before or after the demonetization exercise, on that subject.”