Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Gujarat govt's electoral contribution to BJP by cheque in 2009-10? No state dept knows who made the payment

Modi, Suresh Mehta
By Rajiv Shah
While it is well known that top business houses of Gujarat have liberally contributed to the BJP to meet its electoral expenses, putting Congress in an unenviable position, surprisingly, in 2009-10, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi ruled the state, his government, too, made a contribution, albeit small, to the saffron party!
The 2009-10 list of donations of more than Rs 20,000, submitted by the BJP’s then office in-charge Shyam Jaju to the Election Commission of India (ECI) on December 1, 2010, has an entry on page 13, showing that the “Government of Gujarat, Gandhinagar”, donated Rs 25,000 as electoral contribution to the party by cheque No 482811 of State Bank of India.
Former BJP chief minister Suresh Mehta, who dug out this piece information more than a year ago, told Counterview, “I have been filing Right to Information (RTI) pleas to ascertain who in the state government paid this money, violating all constitution norms. Yet, no state department, including the chief secretary’s office, knows who made the payment.”
In his RTI plea, Mehta, who resigned from the BJP in 2007, sought information for several of his queries, including under which budget head the amount was paid, who took the decision about paying the amount to the BJP, what was the justification for the payment, and which state departments advised to make the payment.
Seeking to see all file notings preceding the decision to send the cheque to the BJP, Mehta wondered whether the amount was paid under the “consolidated fund or any other fund” of the state budget, and how and when its “conciliation/appropriation” – a budgetary requirement – was carried out for making the payment.
Screenshot from the document showing GoG payment to BJP
Documents handed over by Mehta to Counterview suggest the state government departments, which could possibly be responsible for giving the donation to the BJP, including the chief minister’s office (CMO) have been, over the last one year, offering just one reply: That they “can’t find the information” about the donation.
The documents suggest that Mehta – who had filed his RTI to the CMO, the general administration department (GAD), the finance department and the parliamentary affairs department – got some very interesting replies. The first one, dated March 21, 2017, by the GAD, sought information from the ex-chief minister, if he had any, as it couldn’t find any!
Yet another reply by the GAD, dated May 22, 2017, told Mehta that he had sought information from “more than department”, but “we cannot find the requisite information you have sought even after visiting the Gujarat chief secretary’s office several times over.” It adds, “Nor is it clear as to which department is responsible for making a decision about the information you have sought”.
Failing to get information, Mehta approached the Gujarat Information Commission (GIC), the state’s RTI watchdog, which in its order, signed by its commissioner Dilip P Thaker on April 17, 2018, asked the ex-CM to “furnish any information” he has to the GAD about the payment to the BJP within 15, adding, on receiving the information the GAD should “provide its reply” within a fortnight.
Complying by GIC order, in its final reply to Mehta, dated May 4, 2018, the GAD said, “After examing the cash cheque book for the year 2009-10, it has been found that State Bank of India’s cheque No 482811 of Rs 25,000, about which you have referred to, is not there the cash notebook, which means, the GAD and the chief secretary’s office have not made any such payment.”
Comments Mehta, “While the GAD says that it has not issued the cheque, the state government should come clean and say who, if at all, issued the cheque. Interestingly, the state government officials are even refusing to categorically state that the entry of making payment to the BJP was a mistake, or that the state government did not make the payment at all…”

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

The SBI can give information from which account the cheque was received and debited.

Vasudev Charupa said...

Very sensitive article
Its clearly theft of public money

Uma Sheth said...

A clever case of political-cum-financial lederdemain