Shatrughan Sinha's "Chanda Ka Dhanda" Jab At BJP Over Poll Bonds

Shatrughan Sinha, a Trinamool Congress MP, is gearing up for the Lok Sabha battle in West Bengal's Asansol

Shatrughan Sinha is contesting Lok Sabha election from Bengal's Asansol


Opposition parties received donations through the electoral bonds scheme, but it was the BJP who used the system for extortion and blackmail, actor-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha has told NDTV. The Trinamool Congress MP, who is gearing up for the Lok Sabha battle in West Bengal's Asansol, was in Patna when NDTV caught up with him.

Responding to a question on the Trinamool Congress ranking second on the list of parties that received donations through the now-scrapped system, Mr Sinha said, "Has the Trinamool Congress or any other Opposition party resorted to extortion or blackmail? Have they applied pressure that if you do not give a donation, ED, CBI and Income Tax will go after you? Have those who donated through electoral bonds received contracts worth thousands of crores?"

Mr Sinha said it was the BJP which introduced the electoral bonds scheme for political funding. "You cleared the way, what's the problem if others jumped in? They did not misuse the system or hatch a conspiracy or pull off a fraud. They did not commit atrocities or threaten people with arrest," he said.

The ruling BJP, he said, had done "chanda ka dhanda" (business of donation). "You gave out contracts (based on donation), made arrests, threatened people. There is a sea of difference," he said.

"Whether it is Trinamool Congress or Samajwadi Party or Congress, they received money under the system, but they did not misuse it, they did not try to turn it into fear. You cannot draw a comparison between us and the ruling party," Mr Sinha said.

According to the data released by the Election Commission of India, the BJP received the maximum funds through these bonds (Rs 6,986.5 crore) since the scheme was implemented in 2018. Trinamool Congress was a distant second (Rs 1,397 crore) and Congress ranked third (Rs 1,334 crore).

Asked if the electoral bonds revelation is now a poll issue, Mr Sinha agreed. He also flagged the Election Commission of India's response to concerns regarding the Electronic Voting Machines. "People feel that the Election Commission has not come out clear on the question of EVMs. They used shayari to trivialise the matter. Truth and transparency matter. It is equally important that good work is done and good work is seen to be done," he said.

Earlier with the BJP, Mr Sinha joined the Congress in 2019 and switched to the Trinamool in 2022. He won the Asansol parliamentary seat in a bypoll the same year.