Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday said that all major political parties have encashed electoral bonds and nobody has a moral authority to say anything as it was legal and according to law. She also said that in view of the Supreme Court’s judgement against electoral bonds, more debate is needed to come out with a better system for electoral funding.

Replying to a question at Times Now Summit, the minister said the law, which has now been quashed by the apex court, was passed by Parliament and the bonds were purchased as per the prevailing law at that time. ”It was passed by Parliament and based on the law, bonds have bought and encashed by all parties but one… Everyone has received from everybody, every donor has given everybody.

“The very party which now says well this is a scam, this is a scandal, had also taken money through the bonds. Tell me what moral authority anyone has to speak because it was the law then… it went lawfully. It was a step better than what prevailed earlier,” Sitharaman said. On what the new government can do in this regard, she said there is a need to understand how to better the system, which has been rejected now.

The system of electoral bonds was still better than the previous system, “which is what we’ve gone back to now. We need to do something better, but a lot more work is required”, she added. Last month, a five-judge apex court bench, headed by Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud, said the electoral bonds scheme violates the right to information and the freedom of speech and expression under the Constitution.

She also rebutted the allegations of connections between ED (directorate of enforcement) raids and bond purchases, stating the raids have happened even on those companies that donated to the BJP through electoral bonds. ”ED raids still happen, it did not give them (companies) any immunity,” she added.

The minister added that the law enforcement agencies are not acting with any political agenda as law pursues those who disobey it. ”Stop making political arguments over them,” Sitharaman said.

On why the BJP is welcoming tainted politicians, she said the ”doors are open for all”. ”If people see work happening… and a party is making a difference, they obviously would want to come and join. But the BJP has value systems and the way in which the party runs under certain leadership. I don’t think there is ever a compromise on that,” Sitharaman said.

Replying to a question on Congress spokerperson Supriya Shrinate’s comments against BJP Lok Sabha candidate Kangana Ranaut, she said it is ”outrageous” and ”abhorrent”. She added that Shrinate should have tendered an unconditional apology.

A controversial comment was posted on social media platforms from Congress leader Shrinate’s accounts against Ranaut, the Bollywood actor who has been fielded by the BJP as its candidate from the Mandi Lok Sabha constituency in Himachal Pradesh. Following a row, Shrinate removed the controversial remarks from all of her social accounts, claiming that they had been posted not by her but by someone else who had access to her accounts.

The finance minister refused to call the arrest of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal a case of political vendetta. The chief minister had not complied with number of summons sent by the ED, she said, adding that the governance has gone down the drain in Delhi as well as Punjab, the two states ruled by AAP.

Welcoming the minister, Times Group Managing Director Vineet Jain said from the political arena to the global economic stage, from diplomatic corridors to military frontiers, India is making its mark and shaping the future of the world. ”In the realm of politics, India’s vibrant democracy has long stood as a beacon of hope and inspiration. With each election cycle, the citizens of India exercise their democratic rights, ensuring that their voices are heard, and their choices respected,” he said.

He added that geopolitically, India is forging new partnerships and strengthening old alliances, cementing its position as a global leader. ”Through partnerships with countries across Asia, Africa, and beyond, our nation is expanding its influence and playing a pivotal role in shaping regional and global affairs. On the economic front, India’s trajectory is nothing short of remarkable,” Jain added.

(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – PTI)

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