BJP Welcoming Tainted Leaders? "Doors Open For All," Says Nirmala Sitharaman

Given the Supreme Court's judgment against electoral bonds, more debate is needed to find a better system for electoral funding, Nirmala Sitharaman said.

BJP Welcoming Tainted Leaders? 'Doors Open For All,' Says Nirmala Sitharaman

Nirmala Sitharaman dismissed allegations of connections between the ED raids and bond purchases (File)

New Delhi:

All major political parties encashed electoral bonds and nobody has a moral authority to say anything as it was legal and according to law, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said.

She also said that given the Supreme Court's judgment against electoral bonds, more debate is needed to find a better system for electoral funding.

The minister said the law, now scrapped by the top court, was passed by parliament and the bonds were purchased as per the prevailing law of the time.

"It was passed by parliament and based on the law, bonds were bought and encashed by all parties but one... Everyone has received from everybody. Every donor has given to everybody.

"The very party which now says 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," Ms 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 now been rejected.

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 Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, said the electoral bonds scheme violates the right to information and the freedom of speech and expression under the Constitution.

She also dismissed the allegations of connections between the Enforcement Directorate's raids and bond purchases, stating that even companies that donated to the BJP through electoral bonds were raided.

"ED raids still happened. 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 the law pursues those who disobey it.

"Stop making political arguments over them," Ms Sitharaman said.

Asked 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," she said.

Replying to a question on Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate's remarks against BJP Lok Sabha candidate Kangana Ranaut, she said it is "outrageous" and "abhorrent".

Ms Shrinate should have tendered an unconditional apology, she added.

A controversial comment was posted on social media platforms from Congress leader Shrinate's accounts about Kangana Ranaut, the actor fielded by the BJP from Mandi in Himachal Pradesh.

Following a row, Ms Shrinate removed the post and said that it was not posted by her but by someone 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 Delhi Chief Minister had not complied with several ED summonses, she said, adding that governance has gone down the drain in Delhi and Punjab - the two states where the AAP is in power.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)