Note ban: Did Modi govt just allow political parties to launder black money?
Here's the latest "demonetisation" shock from the Narendra Modi regime: unlike ordinary folk, political parties can deposit old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes in their bank accounts without any fear of income tax investigation.
The fear is that this exemption encourages money laundering by the political parties. Indeed, as pointed out by Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi on 8 December, registered parties - both recognised and unrecognised - are already being "used as conduits for siphoning off black money".
In the past, various parties have come under the scanner for accepting funds from shady sources. Indeed, just last year, the Income Tax department issued notices to the Congress, AAP and 48 other parties, suspecting that "bogus or entry operator companies were converting illegal cash into legitimate money by donating it to parties".
And these are parties that are widely recognised. There are hundreds of unrecognised parties across India that hardly anybody has even heard of. With the latest exemption, such entities can easily be turned into money laundering machines, if they aren't already, that is.
India currently has seven registered and recognised national parties, 58 registered and recognised state parties, and at least 1,786 registered but unrecognised parties (full list here).
Most unrecognised parties don't disclose much about them. They do not need to provide even a phone number; a "registered office address" is enough to be registered by the Election Commission. They rarely, if ever, contest elections. One such party called Prism, for example, fielded one Lawan Kumar in a 2013 assembly bypoll from Mandi, Himachal Pradesh (though the party is registered in Rajasthan). Save for a mention in this Hindustan Times report, barely anything is known about it.
Here are other such unrecognised parties and what Catch could dig up about them: