Unveiling the Mystery of Electoral Bonds: Insights from Investigative Journalism

As the debate surrounding electoral bonds continues to unfold, a closer examination of the State Bank of India’s role in this electoral financing mechanism has brought forth intriguing revelations. Poonam Agarwal, an investigative journalist, shares her firsthand experience and sheds light on the elusive “matching code” embedded within electoral bonds, offering valuable insights into the complexities surrounding their usage and disclosure.

Agarwal’s journey into the world of electoral bonds began in 2018 when, as a journalist with The Quint, she embarked on a mission to purchase a bond for an investigative story. Visiting the SBI Parliament Branch, the sole outlet in Delhi authorized to sell electoral bonds, Agarwal encountered skepticism from bank officials regarding her motives. Undeterred, she proceeded with the purchase, only to uncover a hidden aspect of electoral bonds during subsequent forensic testing.

Through meticulous examination, Agarwal discovered the presence of unique identification numbers concealed within the bonds, visible only under UV light. This revelation challenged the prevailing narrative surrounding electoral bond anonymity and raised questions about transparency and accountability in political financing. Subsequent inquiries, including RTI responses from SBI and statements from the finance ministry, confirmed the existence of these unique numbers, attributing them to both security measures and audit trail purposes.

The significance of these unique numbers cannot be overstated. They serve as crucial markers in tracing the flow of funds from purchasers to political parties, potentially illuminating connections and patterns that might otherwise remain obscured. However, their non-disclosure by SBI and the subsequent delay in furnishing details to the Election Commission have fueled speculation and skepticism regarding the integrity of the electoral bond system.

Agarwal’s insights underscore the importance of transparency and accountability in electoral financing, particularly in the context of electoral bonds. The reluctance of institutions to divulge crucial information raises concerns about the integrity of democratic processes and the influence of opaque financial practices on political dynamics.

As the discourse on electoral bonds evolves, it is imperative to heed the voices of investigative journalists like Poonam Agarwal, who tirelessly pursue truth and accountability in the face of institutional opacity. By shedding light on hidden facets of electoral financing, they empower citizens to demand greater transparency and uphold the fundamental principles of democracy.


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