“Tobacco money” is not merely a religious issue: BBS
Reacting to the furor created by the revelations of donations by tobacco company ITC to Shrimoni Akali Dal (SAD), Hemant Goswami, chairperson of BBS said that it was not only SAD which has accepted the tobacco money but 18 political parties having representation in the parliament have received the tobacco money.
[ClickPress, Tue Sep 19 2006] Burning Brain Society (BBS), the NGO which exposed the links of tobacco companies and politicians by revealing about the donations given by tobacco companies to parliamentarians expressed strong resentment on the casual way in which the government and the election commission is taking this matter and the issue of political donations to influence the parliament.
Reacting to the furor created by the revelations of donations by tobacco company ITC to Shrimoni Akali Dal (SAD), Hemant Goswami, chairperson of BBS said that it was not only SAD which has accepted the tobacco money but 18 political parties having representation in the parliament have received the tobacco money. Fourteen of these political parties belong to the ruling alliance and the lions share has gone to Congress and BJP who among themselves received 28.1 million rupees.
Mr. Hemant said that the issue is not merely of religious importance but rather of great public and social importance which highlight the important question of raising funds for elections through business organizations wanting to influence the policies of the country, which may be otherwise against the larger public interest. If it is merely a question of a Sikh receiving election fund, then Mr. Badal, Captain Amarinder Singh and Dr. Manmohan Singh all are at par, as it’s the tobacco money which is helping them in their political functioning.
BBS spokesperson said, “It’s quite shameful that even the most trusted political parties have decided to be a part of the tobacco genocide and sided with tobacco companies despite the fact that every year nearly a million people die because of tobacco use and about two million youngsters become new tobacco addicts in India.” Mr. Goswami rued that “While many social activists are spending and risking their lives to fight the misdeeds of the tobacco giants, but unfortunately the politicians whose actual duty is to save millions from dying are finding ways to mitigate the good work done on tobacco control.”
“We shall be soon approaching the Election Commission to draft new rules on a policy to accept political donation from organisations whose influence on the parliament can work against public interest and welfare,” Hemant informed.
WHO GOT WHAT – DETAILS
According to the 2005 financial report of ITC Limited: All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam - Rs. 0.06 Crore; All India Trinamool Congres - Rs. 0.04 Crore; Bahujan Samaj Party - Rs.0.19 Crore ; Bharatiya Janata Party - Rs.1.37 Crores; Biju Janata Dal - Rs.0.11Crore ; Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam - Rs.0.16 Crore; Indian National Congress - Rs.1.44 Crores; Indian National Lok Dal - Rs.0.03 Crore; Jammu & Kashmir National Conference -Rs. 0.03 Crore ; Nationalist Congress Party - Rs.0.09 Crore; Samajwadi Party -Rs. 0.36 Crore; Shiv Sena - Rs.0.12 Crore; Telegu Desam Party - Rs. 0.15 Crore; Janata Dal (United) - Rs.0.08 Crore; Jharkhand Mukti Morcha - Rs.0.05Crore; Rashtriya Janata Dal - Rs. 0.21 Crore; Shiromani Akali Dal - Rs. 0.08 Crore; Telangana Rashtra Samithi -Rs. 0.05 Crore.