New Delhi: After The Wire published an article on how the Bharatiya Janata Party has not revealed to the public or the Election Commission who the party’s treasurer is, some leaders in the top echelons of the BJP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh have expressed surprise that the audited accounts of the party submitted to the EC were not signed by an officially appointed treasurer.
EC guidelines stipulate that national political parties identify who their treasurer – or person officially designated to maintain accounts – is. This is an important requirement, as former chief election commissioner S.Y. Qureshi told The Wire, but the BJP’s audited accounts sent to the EC are signed by an unidentified individual who has scribbled “for treasurer”. The treasurer too remains unnamed in any party statement or document.
A BJP leader who is also a senior member of the cabinet and is close to the RSS brass told The Wire on Tuesday, on condition of anonymity, that this sort of thing has never happened before in the party and that rules used to be followed scrupulously, to the last detail. He said the post of treasurer is very important and the party has never undermined that post in the past.
Senior leaders have suggested that the BJP’s casual approach to what is such an important element for financial transparency is reflective of the increasing centralisation of party affairs in the hands of Narendra Modi, Amit Shah and a handful of others around them. There is a section of the BJP leadership which is perturbed by this centralisation, which even extends to the PMO telling ministers who they can hire as part of their personal staff, including peons.
In a pre-election year, the question of financial transparency assumes even greater significance and it is completely valid for people to ask who is playing the role of treasurer, said another party leader.
Two days after The Wire broke the story about the mystery surrounding the identity of the BJP’s national treasurer – the post was last held by Piyush Goyal, who ostensibly relinquished control when he became a minister in 2014 – the party continues to maintain a studied silence on the issue.
Following this exposé, several journalists from different media organisations have called BJP spokespersons for a clarification but the party has had nothing to offer by way of explanation. While the BJP’s leadership is counting on the controversy not becoming the subject of prime time debates, there are senior members of the Sangh parivar who believe the problem raised needs to be resolved properly. A senior party leader said, “The Modi-Shah era is seeing several departures from past practices relating to inner party democracy. These issues will not go away so easily.”
Swati Chaturvedi is a Delhi-based journalist.