Dear Mr Modi, why not crackdown on black-money funding of political parties?


Whether we approve of demonetization or not, all of us in this country have no choice but to make it work since the decision cannot be reversed. Hopefully, the cash-crunch will be sorted out at the earliest so as to mitigate the angst of the worst-affected economically weaker sections, especially the small and marginal farmers in rural India (where there are not enough banks and the internet connectivity is poor) and the millions employed in the informal sector who have traditionally been paid in cash.

Which makes one wonder why the political parties continue to be exempt from tax-scrutiny on their deposits of demonetized notes as long as they are shown to be from individual donations of less than 20,000 rupees. There is also no upper-limit to the amount of income a political party can have to be exempt from paying tax.

It is no secret that the bulk of the black-money funding of political parties is shown to be in the form of individual donations of less than Rs 20,000 each since these are not subject to further scrutiny. If, in the case of individual accounts, there is scrutiny on deposits of demonetized notes, with penal-tax being levied if the source of funding is not genuine, the same should equally apply to political parties.

The failure to crack down on black-money funding of political parties comes at a time when individual account-holders have been subjected to considerable stress in the wake of demonetization by having to stand in queues for hours and hours, especially in the rural areas where marginal farmers have found it difficult to withdraw their own money at the crucial time of sowing the rabi crop even while lakhs of workers employed in the informal sector in urban India have had to return to their homes in the villages because small businesses have not been able to withdraw enough cash to pay them.

At rallies throughout the country, the prime minister has taken note of what he has termed as the “tapasya” of millions of honest individual account-holders throughout the country, especially the economically weaker sections who are the most vulnerable
The best acknowledgment of this tapasya would be to crack down on black-money funding of political parties, which is the root of corruption in the system. And the best time to act is now.