Skip to main content

Parallel bodies abroad funding Indian political parties, says pro-democracy NGO; refuses to name Sangh Parivar

Jagdeep Chhokar addressing ADR seminar in Ahmedabad
By Our Representative
The Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), a top civil rights organization which works for transparency and accountability in Indian politics, has accused “certain parallel associations working abroad” for seeking to utilize the March 2016 amendment to the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), 2010, to fund political parties.
The accusation comes close on the heels of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) saying that the FCRA amendment would help “foreign-based radical Hindu organizations … to send funds to India without restriction to support hate campaigns” (click HERE to read).
USCIRF, an independent, bipartisan US federal government commission, identifies these organizations as Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America, Sewa International USA, Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation-USA, and the Overseas Friends of the Bharatiya Janata Party-USA.
Refusing to name any of them, ADR’s founder-trustee Jagdeep Chhokar, former professor of the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad, underlined, “We don’t name organizations and political parties which are funded from abroad. But all know what their activities are.”
On being asked whether he thought organizations attached with BJP and Sangh Parivar were involved in funding hate campaigns in India, Chhokar said, “There is no relationship between a funding political party and supporting hate campaigns.”
ADR is receives its funds under FCRA, which, a participant in the seminar told Counterview, was a major reason why it would not name Hindutva groups for funding BJP. “It adopts a safe, equidistance approach towards BJP and Congress, to avoid any Modi clampdown on the NGO”, the participated claimed.
IPS officer Kuleep Sharma addressing the seminar
Commenting o the March 2016 amendment, Chhokar said, it was “hastily and silently introduced by BJP with Congress help to legalize funding by foreign entities to political parties”, adding, it “came into effect retroactively from 2010, when FCRA was introduced.”
The amendment, said Chhokar, was in response to a 2014 Delhi High Court decision, in which the court ruled that both the BJP and the Congress were guilty of violating FCRA, because they received millions of dollars from foreign entities for their 2014 election campaigns.
Chhokar gave the example of a Public Awareness and Political Trust, owned by three companies, all of them subsidiaries of UK-based multinational corporation, Vedanta, which he said was “diverting foreign controlled money” to Congress and BJP.
He said, there were in all 19 such electoral trusts, which came up under a 2013 Government of India scheme allowing India’s biggest industrial houses to give money to political parties in the name of transparency in such funding.
As the High Court ordered the Election Commission to act against both the two main parties, Chhokar said, both aligned to bring in an amendment to FCRA in March 2016, which characterized as “Indian” a foreign company owning an Indian entity so long as its foreign investment limits were under prescribed limits, allowing it to give funds to a political party bypassing FCRA.
Addressing the ADR seminar, which was supported by the right to information civil rights organization Mahiti Adhikar Gujarat Pahel, former BJP chief minister Suresh Mehta said that the biggest concern currently is how government and ruling political party is maintaining secrecy in its crucial decisions of giving public resources to private entities.
Ajay Umat, editor, “Navgujarat Samay”, a Gujarati daily, said, “Political parties have been using their machineries and making political appointments at key educational institutions, which is becoming major challenge in the democratic functioning. Information is not shared even with elected representatives to avoid discussions and debates.”
Others who addressed the seminar included Gujarat cadre IPS officer Kuldeep Sharma, currently with the Congress, Aam Aadmi Party leader and ex-BJP MLA Kanu Kalsaria, economist Prof Rohit Shukla and Gandhian activist Indukumar Jani.

Comments

TRENDING

Whistle-blowing IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt's wife suspects foul play after truck hits her car

By Nachiketa Desai*
Paranoia has seized Shweta Bhatt, wife of suspended Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Sanjiv Bhatt, after the car she was driving was rammed in broad day light. According to Shweta Bhatt, it was beacon light-flashing truck without registration number plate. The incident took place on January 7, just a day ahead of the Gujarat High Court was scheduled to take up the bail application of Sanjiv Bhatt, arrested last year for "involvement" in a 23-year-old case.

Call to support IIM-Bangalore professor, censured for seeking action against Uniliver

Counterview Desk
Sections of the Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs) across India have strongly reacted to the decision to censure Dr Deepak Malghan, a faulty at IIM-Bangalore. Prabhir Vishnu Poruthiyil, who is faculty at IIM-Tiruchirapalli, has sought wider solidarity with Dr Malghan, saying, "The administration has censured Deepak for merely suggesting a meaningful action against Hindustan Unilever for their abysmal environmental record" by “disinviting” it for campus placement.

99% MGNREGA funds "exhausted", Govt of India makes no additional sanctions: Study

Counterview Desk
A letter, addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and prepared by senior activists led by Aruna Roy on behalf of the Peoples’ Action for Employment Guarantee (PAEG), and signed, among others, by 80 members of Parliament, has regretted that, despite repeated public statements by his government promising employment and job creation that will boost the country’s growth, the country’s only employment guarantee programme, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), “is being systematically undermined.”

Morari Bapu, who has installed new statues of Ram, Laxman, Hanuman without weapons

By Sandeep Pandey*
A saint is one who can give some inner peace by his/her voice. This will happen only when s(he) will talk about love and harmony. Morari Bapu is one saint who has been conveying the message of love, peace, harmony, fraternity, etc. Today when a number of saffron clad figures with aggressive posture, spewing venom, fanning hatred to polarise voters are at the forefront of politics of Hindutva it is a relief to see Morari Bapu in a different mould.

Nuclear reactors sought from French giant "not safe": Letter to Modi on Jaitapur project

Counterview Desk
Amidst reports that the French nuclear giant EDF has submitted a “techno-commercial offer” for the world’s largest nuclear power park proposed in Maharashtra’s Jaitapur nuclear power park in Jaitapur on the Maharashtra coast, Dr EAS Sarma, India’s former Union Secretary in the Minister of Power, and an eminent voice in the civil society, has written an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who also heads Department of Atomic Energy (DAE),  protesting the move.

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

Kerala land being acquired using "draconian, anti-people" National Highway Act, 1956

Counterview Desk
In a letter Chief Minister of Kerala Pinarayi Vijayan, senior activists and politicians have insisted that the Kerala government should not agree to "inhuman displacement and buid-operate-transfer (BOT) Toll system", imposed by the Government of India and the National Highway Authority of India, for widening the current National Highway (NH) 66.

Kaiga NPP expansion: Karnataka to get just 400 MW, but lose thick forest, fresh water

Counterview Desk
In an open letter to the chairman and members of the Atomic energy Commission (AEC) on the issue of Kaiga nuclear power plant (NPP) expansion plan in Karnataka, Shankar Sharma, well-known power policy analyst, has argued that that in case of expansion, the site will face “exponential increase in radiation emission risks”, underlining, “Nuclear safety experts identify such a scenario as enhanced risk for NPPs with multiple reactors and shared technical facilities."
Sharma says the questions that also be asked whether Karnataka should lose more than 54 hectares of thick forests and about 152,304 cubic meters of fresh water per day from Kali river for a meager benefit of 400 MW from the Kaiga NPP, for which “there are many benign alternative options available for the state at much lower overall costs to the state.”
Text of the letter: This has reference to the public hearing under the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Rule 2006 of Ministry of Environment, Fore…

Uttarakhand High Court: Biodiversity boards can impose fees on Ramdev's Divya Pharmacy

By Mridhu Tandon
In a significant decision, the Uttarakhand High Court on December 21, 2018 has dismissed the writ petition filed by Divya Pharmacy founded by Baba Ramdev and Acharya Balakrishnan, challenging the demand of the Uttarakhand Biodiversity Board (UBB) imposing fees under the provisions of the Fair and Equitable Benefit Sharing (FEBS).

Modi becoming Prime Minister now appears to be an "accident" to the people of India

By Sandeep Pandey*
Anupam Kher's film 'Accidental Prime Minister' has targeted Dr Manmohan Singh who served for two terms and may be again acceptable for the job if his party regains power. But his tormentor Narendra Modi seems to be out of breath even before his first term is over. Disillusionment with him is so widespread and deep that people of India may not bear with him for another term. As the general elections approach again the difference between the two needs to be examined.