Electoral bonds: A lucrative secret investment?

Years of reporting on corruption and crony capitalism in India had taught me one thing. The episodes we catch and write upon are mere symptoms. The disease that infects governance in India is our corrupted electoral funding.

When a business or a corporate entity invests in a politician or a political party, they see it as an investment. If the investment pays off—when the politician or the political party ascends positions of power—their expectations are straightforward. They expect a healthy return on the investment.

It is a high-risk investment (imagine, if their candidate or the party loses badly and their rivals come into positions of power), so the returns expected are also high. How do the winning candidates pay back the favour?

At the petty end are contracts that go to the donor, their friends and allies. At the higher end, the politician lobbies and the political party begins to make policies, laws, regulations, rules and executive orders that deliver undue business and profits to the corporates.

If the political outfit or politician has learnt to work the system, no rule or regulation is broken. It’s bent just enough to favour a donor. It is justified on files in bureaucratic language which citizens most often do not get access to and if they do, are unable to decipher.

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