By Pillai Vishnu:
I do not know what I am surprised at more. The fact that the Modi government just proposed an amendment which will redefine foreign companies as Indian to donate to political parties or the fact that no one gives a shit?
First of all, the amendment is as follows,
“In the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act 2010, in section 2, in sub section(1), in clause (j), in sub-clause(vi), the following provision shall be inserted with effect from 26 September 2010, namely:–
‘Provided that where the nominal value of share capital is within the limits specified for foreign investments under the Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999, or the rules and regulations made thereunder, then, notwithstanding the nominal value of the share capital of a company being more than one half of such value at the time of making the contribution, such company shall not be deemed a foreign source’.”
To explain the implication and motive of this amendment let me take you back to a Delhi High Court judgement in 2014, before the national election, that indicted the BJP and Congress for accepting donations from the foreign company Vedanta. This was against the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA). At least, it was in violation back then.
While the High Court indicted the BJP and Congress, like always, the national parties appealed in the Supreme Court against the verdict. As of now, the matter is pending in the Supreme Court.
But, guess what Mr. Arun Jaitley did ever so silently without anyone noticing. He just proposed an amendment to that law to make this (Vedanta) company not foreign anymore. In other words, he just saved BJP’s and, wait for it, Congress‘ ass as well.
Since the amendment takes effect retrospectively, he has actually not left any loopholes. I am amazed at the efficiency of the lawmakers this time around (of course, it’s for their own survival). The case will surely sail through in the Supreme Court. The BJP and Congress will walk scot-free again and we would be left wishing, if only these lawmakers could make such air tight laws for matters like rape.
Why is it surprising the Modi government is doing it? Well, that is because it was this same government that came down hard on ‘some’ NGOs (some of which were pursuing cases against the accused in the 2002 riots) under the same FRCA for receiving foreign donations. They were accused of using the donations for ‘political activities’.
Why is it surprising that no major news channel picked up on the news? It is even more surprising because it is the bloody election season now! Four states and one union territory are going for elections. This should have been prime time news. We should have heard the likes of Barkha and Arnab asking these difficult questions. Because guess what Mr. Goswami, the nation really wants to know!
What are the implications of this amendment? First of all, the BJP and Congress would be saved as this amendment is effective retrospectively. Secondly, it would open the doors to other such ‘foreign’ corporations to dictate the political scenario in our country, be it foreign policy or economics. Of course, all they have to do is to give hefty donations to political parties.
What this amendment is telling me is that when times are tough for political parties, there is no difference between them, not in ideology, governance or anything. There are no adjournments, nothing! This will be proven to be correct if this amendment proposed by Mr. Jaitley and the Modi government is passed because it helps both the BJP and Congress!
The amendment is serious. The media is not exposing it. The politicians are all in it as they stand to benefit. We have everything going against us. It’s upon us to spread the news, create a public consensus opposing the amendment, and make it so strong that the media can’t ignore it.
What the new law will do is to increase the already high corporate donations to political parties. Now, they wouldn’t even have to be Indian! We have to stand up together and make the government realise that if the corporates have money, we have the votes.
We have to make them realise that our votes are more valuable than corporate money. We have to make them realise that they can’t fool us. We have to make them realise that we also matter!